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Agreements will aid Maryland Theatre improvement plans

May 30, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council approved two agreements Tuesday that will let the city move ahead with plans to let The Maryland Theatre use the former McBare's Pub building and demolish the Double T building downtown.

The agreements were approved by a 3-2 vote, with Penny May Nigh and Kristin Aleshire opposed.

The theater would use the property under an agreement between the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation, Mayor William Breichner said.

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.

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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.

Wolford said Tuesday she hopes to be using the building at 25, 27 and 29 S. Potomac St. by the last week of 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, probably in about three years, Breich-ner said.

The two agreements between the city and the industrial foundation, also known as CHIEF, call 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.

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.

As part of the agreement, the city 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.

Under the land swap, though, the city would not have to forgive the loan and pay those costs until it demolishes the McBare's building, Breichner said.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman has said demolishing the former lounge building and turning it into a walkway, installing lights, and putting a 25-space parking lot behind it and the building beside it would cost about $162,000.

Zimmerman has said city staff will continue working on plans to demolish the building, which ultimately would have to be approved by a council vote.

Those plans can be canceled if someone comes forward with a better plan for the property, Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart said.

Staff Writer Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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