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Saving facades mulled

December 14, 2000

Saving facades mulled



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The developer proposing a $12 million office building for downtown Hagerstown said Thursday he will look into whether he can afford to save at least the facades of three buildings he wants to demolish.

Marc Silverman, a Rockville, Md., developer, said he doesn't know whether saving parts of the buildings is "economically viable," but he will get that information.

Silverman met with the Hagerstown Preservation Design District Commission Thursday afternoon to review his demolition request. Approval by the commission, also known as the PDDC, is required for Silverman's plan because the buildings are within a city historical district.

The buildings that would be demolished are 32-36 S. Potomac St., which city documents state is owned by Joe Walker, 38-40 S. Potomac St., a city-owned building also known as the former Tri-State building, and 46-48 S. Potomac St., which is owned by the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation and was occupied by the Double T Lounge.

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Silverman is proposing a four-story office building with two underground parking levels that would be accessible from an alley behind the property. The building would be set back about 40 feet from South Potomac Street to make room for a plaza.

The PDDC in September denied Silverman's initial request for demolition because the buildings are considered integral components of the historical character of downtown.

Silverman is now applying to the PDDC for a certificate of hardship, to allow the demolition.

To receive the certificate of hardship, Silverman must show the project would be of greater public benefit than keeping the buildings, and that the project could not be done unless the buildings were torn down.

As part of that process, Silverman said he will review the cost of incorporating the buildings into his project.

"It does not look like any of the buildings can be used, but (there is the) possibility to save the two end-building facades and the top of the middle (building) facade," Silverman told PDDC members.

Silverman said he will meet with the PDDC on Jan. 25. At that time he may have cost estimates, he said.

About 15 people attended the Thursday PDDC review of Silverman's project, and six of them publicly commented on the plan.

Charles Sekula, owner of the Schmankerl Stube restaurant a few doors down from the site of Silverman's proposed building, said the project would be a "fresh breath of air for this block."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and Tom Newcomer, chairman of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and owner of a downtown jewelry store, also endorsed Silverman's project.

Florence Riedesel said it is her opinion the project can be done without destroying any buildings.

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