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Church may change plans

October 16, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Christ's Reformed United Church of Christ may have to halt the demolition and renovation of the former Cannon Shoe Factory building if new tenants can't be found, a spokesman for the church's marketing committee said Tuesday.

The building at 148 W. Franklin St. was given to the adjacent Christ's Reformed church about four years ago.

Plans call for demolishing about 75 percent of the four- and five-story factory building and replacing it with a parking lot. The wing of the building closest to the church will be left standing and renovated.

The renovated building was to be used as offices for the church, the Washington County Housing Authority, the Community Action Council and REACH, or Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless. Representatives of the Housing Authority and the Community Action Council have since said they will not move into the location, said former Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, a member of the marketing committee.

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The 600-member church has invested about $500,000 in the project, which has an estimated cost of about $3 million, he said.

In the next few months, the church will need to decide whether to stop the project due to lack of new tenants and sufficient funds, Boyer said. Demolition and exterior renovation work is expected to be finished in November, at which point interior renovation work could start, Boyer said.

Speaking to the Hagerstown City Council Tuesday, Boyer joked, "I am not going to ask for any money, but if you have any extra I could change my mind really quickly."

During a project update to the council, Boyer asked the city to help spread word that the church is looking for new tenants. Councilwoman Carol N. Moller suggested Boyer contact the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission to determine if any companies might want the space.

In October 2000, the Housing Authority moved out of the county's District Court building into offices at 44 N. Potomac St., Suite 201. The new location was going to be temporary since the Authority planned to move to the renovated building, Executive Director Richard Willson said Tuesday.

It later became clear the move was not financially feasible and the Housing Authority told the church it would not move there, Willson said.

The Community Action Council was planning to move because the agency is housed in a county-owned building the county was considering selling, Executive Director David Jordan said. The CAC now doesn't need to move because the county plans to sell it the property for $1, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

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