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Warehouse proposals considered

March 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Those who made pitches Tuesday night to renovate a vacant warehouse in Hagerstown included a Frederick, Md., lawyer, a Hagerstown boxing club member and the chairwoman of a Kensington, Md., nonprofit organization.

None said they have experience in renovation of older buildings.

Hagerstown Economic Development Director Debbie Everhart said last week the city, which owns the three-story warehouse in the first block of East Washington Street, wants to place the property back on the tax rolls.

The city bought the property that holds the Tusing Warehouse in 1997 to expand its parking lot and has been trying to sell the warehouse. There were plans for Discovery Station, an interactive museum, to use the space, but those plans were scrapped last year.

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Under the plans presented Tuesday, between $1,000 and $90,000 would be paid for the building and the buyers would perform between $60,000 and $1.35 million in renovations.

A group led by Scott Draper of the Has Been Boxing Club in Hagerstown offered to buy the building for $90,000 and perform between $60,000 and $80,000 in renovations.

Frederick lawyer Stephen Glessner and an associate proposed to buy the building for $20,000 and invest between $400,000 and $600,000 in fixing it up.

Members of the Kensington, Md., Forest Glen Commonwealth historic group proposed to buy the property for $1,000 and perform another $1.21 to $1.35 million in work.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the process is in its early stages and "all of those (prices) are subject to negotiation." He said city staff members will prepare a report considering the city's goals for development and the purchase price offers, and will recommend which group or groups should submit formal bids.

The council will discuss the options at a future meeting.

Draper said his group's project would include a karate school, aerobics and youth programs.

"Our primary goal is to have ... positive impact on youth," he said.

He said his group would need to borrow the entire amount to finance the project, but he believed obtaining loans would not be a problem.

Glessner and his associate, retired dentist Donna Tullner, said their plan for the building is mixed-use development. The main level would contain a restaurant, and the rest of the building could be used for offices or apartments.

According to a Glessner and Tullner's submission, the renovations could be complete in six months once they financed the project.

Richard Lank and Rebecca Rush, of the Kensington, Md., historic preservation group, said they would like to turn the property into an educational museum that features local history.

Councilman Kristin Aleshire questioned the amount of money the Frederick lawyer and the Kensington group offered for the property.

During Glessner's presentation, Aleshire said he had "some difficulty in accepting a purchase price offer of $20,000."

Tullner, Glessner's associate who said she would put up $200,000 of her own money, said "the city should meet us halfway."

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