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Self-made Manny

Monsoor 'Manny' Shaool says he loves both supporters and critics

Monsoor 'Manny' Shaool says he loves both supporters and critics

October 28, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Monsoor "Manny" Shaool: Ambitious developer who would bulldoze Bambi's abode to make a buck, or conscientious provider of Washington County's best homes who gives back a fortune in profits to the community he loves?

Or maybe a little of both.

There's something about Shaool that polarizes public opinion, but to supporters and critics alike, Shaool swears, "I love them regardless."

Up to a point.

Shaool doesn't hesitate to fire back at those who criticize some of his development projects without, he says, taking the time to talk to him in person about his plans. And he doesn't pull any punches when he discusses the path county officials have paved for future development through recent revisions to the county's comprehensive plan.

"That's not the right plan," said Shaool, who criticized the potential loss to farmland value due to the called-for down-zoning.

"This county should be treated like a business," he said.

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Some of Shaool's detractors are critical of his business practices, though many declined to comment on the record. His supporters are generous with their praise.

County Commissioner John Schnebly struck a balance between the two camps.

"Manny and his family have been involved in some projects that have really benefited the community," said Schnebly, who cited the Shaools' support for the South Hagerstown High School renovation. "Certainly he's had a role in developing high-value residential properties in the county."

As a businessman, Schnebly said, Shaool "bargains hard. We should be bargaining hard, too. It's the county's responsibility to strike deals that benefit the county."

Community-minded


Shaool, who with his family owns Washco Developments Inc., Black Rock Estates, Foxshire Plaza and Manny's Oriental Rugs in downtown Hagerstown, says he only plans projects he thinks will benefit his community.

"Everything I develop I do for the community," said Shaool, 60. "People want quality housing, and the property taxes help pay for services."

Shaool's current and planned developments in the county include Springfield Farms in Williamsport, Rosewood Village off Robinwood Drive in Hagerstown, Sunset Meadows near Clear Spring and a large, mixed housing-type subdivision across from Black Rock Golf Course in Hagerstown.

Shaool said his pricey projects - the homes at Black Rock range from $400,000 to $1 million and his Williamsport apartments rent for at least $700 per month - help fund education and other county expenses because the high-dollar homes generate above-average property taxes, based upon appraised value.

As a general contractor, Shaool can ensure the high quality of the homes built on his properties, he said.

"I build the best of the best, and I know the demand is for the best," Shaool said.

More than 30 families are waiting to rent homes in Shaool's $3 million luxury apartment complex under construction on more than six acres of the historic Springfield Farm property in Williamsport, he said. The complex's first 12 units are expected to open later this fall.

About 40 townhouses are already rented at his 525-unit Rosewood Village housing development near Hagerstown Community College, he said. The first phase of the project, which includes 77 townhouses and 42 elderly living units, should be completed by March.

Self-made man


Shaool's detractors debate the effect of his development on the community, but few can dispute that he is a self-made man who has used his wealth from business, in part, to support many worthy causes. Shaool has contributed this year to more than 30 local clubs and organizations ranging from the American Red Cross to the Clear Spring Charger Cheerleaders.

"Whatever I do in life for anyone, I never think about the reward," he said. "I do it for my own heart."

Shaool donated half of the items to be auctioned in November at a Sunrise Rotary Club event to benefit The Community Free Clinic, Habitat for Humanity of Washington County, REACH Caregivers, Food Resources, PoliPlus and the Sunrise Rotary Foundation, he said.

"Manny's one of those people who always steps up to the plate to help other groups," said former Sunrise Rotary President Kay Hoffman, a member of the club committee that nominated Shaool for the 2001-02 Vocational Achievement Award.

Shaool earned the award for "achievement of exemplary vocational excellence and the practice of high ethical standards in the business community," according to a Sunrise Rotary newsletter that also commended Shaool for his generosity to charitable organizations and dedication to his faith and family.

Rabbi Janice Garfunkel said the Shaools have been leaders in supporting their Hagerstown synagogue, Congregation B'nai Abraham, and its members.

"He and his family are always really generous in offering to assist in any project people come up with. If anybody needs help, (the Shaools) are always there for them," Garfunkel said.

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