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Theater may use adjacent building

April 18, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Theatre will be able to use the former McBare's Pub building under an agreement between the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation, Mayor William M. Breichner said Wednesday.

The former pub building, which is owned by the city, would house the theater offices, concessions and an expanded lobby, theater Executive Director Patricia Wolford said.

A wall between the existing theater lobby and the former pub building would be knocked down and a door installed to connect the buildings, she said.

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Wolford said she hopes to be using the building at 25, 27 and 29 South Potomac Street by mid-June. The planned improvements will cost about $25,000, she said.

Part of a plan for a more than $20 million Performing and Visual Arts Center calls for demolishing the pub building to make room for an expanded theater lobby and courtyard.

The agreement would let the theater use the former pub building until it is demolished, which probably will be in about three years, Breichner said.

The City Council supported the plan during a closed-door meeting about two weeks ago, Breichner said. The council probably will vote on the plan in May, he said.

Breichner said the agreement between the city and the industrial foundation, also known as CHIEF, calls for swapping South Potomac Street properties.

CHIEF would give the city the former Double T building, and the city would give CHIEF the former McBare's Pub building.

CHIEF President and CEO Richard Phoebus said CHIEF will let the theater use the former pub building until it's demolished.

As part of the agreement, the city still would be obligated to repay CHIEF any money spent to purchase the former Double T building. The city loaned CHIEF $140,000 and CHIEF spent another $140,000 to purchase that building, Phoebus said.

"Our intention is to hold (the former McBare's Pub building) until it can be used in the Arts and Entertainment plan," Phoebus said.

"Our only purpose is to be a facilitator. We're not going to make any money off this deal," he said.

The city wants the Double T as part of a plan to demolish that building and put a walkway and new parking lot on the property.

By agreeing to the property swap, the city avoids having to forgive the CHIEF loan and pay CHIEF $140,000 for the former Double T building, Breichner said.

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