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Martinsburg Gateway Building under contract

January 18, 2001

Martinsburg Gateway Building under contract



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Settlement papers are expected to be signed within a few days for the sale of the Gateway Building on Queen and Martin streets.

"I don't see any roadblocks" to the sale, said Tim Luwis, who speaks for the current owners of the building. "It's under contract. Unless somebody defaults at this stage, which I'm sure isn't going to happen, it should be settled probably by the end of next week."

Luwis said the new owner does not want to go public with his name or plans until the deal is completed.

Luwis previously said the new owner planned to put some businesses in the lower floors of the five-story structure. A key was parking around the building, which is limited.

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The buyer approached the city seeking assurances city officials would address parking needs That may not be an issue, said Mayor George Karos.

"He's making a concerted effort to acquire nearby property for his parking," Karos said.

City leaders view the development of the structure as a linchpin to future revitalization efforts downtown. The city also will soon do a study of traffic flow and parking needs.

"We need to know, 'Do we need more parking, can we change the parking around, do we need to change the parking somehow, do we need a parking garage?'" Karos said.

Berkeley County officials also are discussing building a new government building across from the current courthouse complex on King Street. Part of that discussion will center on a new parking structure.

County Facilities Manager Walt Davis has said the county may need a 400-vehicle parking complex.

Karos said he has written county officials telling them the city will help in any way it can as they discuss a new government complex and parking facility.

"Martinsburg is part of Berkeley County. We should be working together," he said.

City Manager Mark Baldwin said a study would be timely since the city may be ready to expand downtown.

"Is there adequate parking now? Maybe there is and maybe there isn't. But in the future, is it meeting the needs of businesses and their customers?"

"Will the city get the grant to finish the train station? What if Shepherd Community College really takes off (at the old Blue Ridge Outlet Center)? They've got parking there, but it will have an effect. What if the (B&O Railroad) Roundhouse moves ahead, and the Apollo Theater? We have to look at this for future expansion. This is the time to do the study," Baldwin said.

Whoever buys the building must address the code violations in the current structure, which opened in the 1920s as the Shenandoah Hotel. Luwis estimated that up to $3 million may be needed to fix the building.

It closed as a hotel in the early 1980s. The only business still operating in the hotel is the Gateway Peking Restaurant.

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