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Hagerstown campus to keep old look

May 02, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Offering a sneak peek of what the new Hagerstown Education Center will look like, a University System of Maryland official reminded business leaders Wednesday that the project's success depends on community support.

Encouraging employees to take classes at the center is one way the business community can help ensure that the education center thrives, said Mark W. Beck, director of capital budget and planning for the University System of Maryland.

Beck presented architectural concept drawings showing the proposed layout of the Baldwin House complex on West Washington Street after renovation.

He outlined an aggressive timeline for the project that would allow the first classes to be held there by January 2004.

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Architecturally, few changes will be made to the front of the building. Old photographs and postcards are being used for the restoration.

Inside, the building will look modern, with many of the amenities of new construction, Beck told about 60 business leaders at the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues forum.

To keep costs within the $12.4 million budget, an old warehouse in the back will be torn down.

The warehouse will be replaced with an atrium-style addition that will connect the former hotel portion of the complex to the former department store, Beck said.

Modern bathrooms, which would have been difficult and expensive to retrofit in the turn-of-the-century buildings, will be built into the addition.

"We had to work with what we had to work with and, in reality, it worked out very well for us," he said. In all, there will be 32,000 square feet of usable space.

Next week, the University System will begin seeking a contractor to oversee the design and construction, which is expected to begin in November and continue throughout 2003.

A separate contractor will be hired as soon as May 22 to remove asbestos and some lead paint, he said. That work is expected to take the rest of the summer.

"The fact that it's going to come so quickly is exciting. It's going to be jumping off the boards for us," said Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner.

University System officials are still determining what courses will be offered there.

The center probably will start with the degree programs now offered by Frostburg State University, which will move into the new building. Other programs will develop over four or five years, depending on community interest, he said.

While the University System is losing Vice Chancellor Charles Middleton at the end of the month, Beck said Middleton's replacement will be encouraged to develop a personal interest in the Hagerstown center.

The Hagerstown center is being modeled after the Shady Grove Education Center in Montgomery County, Md., where classrooms are filled.

"We're hoping it will generate that same kind of 'if you build it, they will come' mentality," Beck said.

The University System will forge an agreement with Hagerstown Community College to offer freshman- and sophomore-level courses that correspond with the junior- and senior-level courses that will be offered at the center.

"We need that symbiotic relationship," Beck said.

Floor plan drawings by Bushey Feight Morin Architects Inc. of Hagerstown will be on display at the FSU center in Public Square.

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