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State grants could help with renovations at planned center

May 08, 2002|BY LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Maryland's Office of Smart Growth is exploring state grants to improve parking and open space around the planned Hagerstown Education Center in downtown Hagerstown.

A liaison from the office is working with Hagerstown officials on the $4.4 million proposal, Raquel Guillory, Gov. Parris Glendening's spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

Washington County business leaders first proposed the plan about two years ago to complement the University System of Maryland's renovation of the Baldwin House complex on Washington Street.

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"That will really make it feel more like a downtown college campus," said Fred Teeter, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

The first part of the plan calls for the city to purchase and demolish the old McCrory's building next door, Teeter said.

Contractors renovating the Baldwin House could use the empty space as a construction staging area, eliminating the need to close Washington Street, he said.

The bulk of the $12.4 million renovation will take place in 2003 and the first classes may be held there in January 2004, Mark Beck, director of capital planning, said last week.

As part of the renovation, an old department store warehouse behind the Baldwin House will be torn down.

Teeter said the government might be able to save money by taking down the McCrory's building at the same time.

"The ideal thing would be to do it simultaneously," he said.

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