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D.C.-area group might buy Allegheny business park

August 31, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Allegheny Energy Inc. might have a buyer for its business park and former headquarters along Downsville Pike, the executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission said Monday.

EDC Executive Director Timothy R. Troxell said it is his understanding that a group from the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area has an option to buy the 10435 Downsville Pike building and Friendship Technology Park.

Troxell did not know when the option expires.

Allegheny spokesman Guy Fletcher said company officials would not make any announcements until the building and/or business park are sold.

Both the headquarters and the approximately 450-acre business park have been on the market since at least July 2003, when an internal company e-mail said real estate consultants would be touring the property southwest of Hagerstown.

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In April, Allegheny officials announced the utility was moving its corporate headquarters from Downsville Pike to Greensburg, Pa., with the move expected to be completed by Sept. 1.

"It's basically a means to improve our financial stability," Fletcher said. It wasn't efficient to have the building with fewer than 50 employees there, he said.

Allegheny moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Washington County in 1996.

In recent years, the utility faced financial turmoil after it entered the energy trading market. At one point, it warned of a possible bankruptcy filing.

Company officials struck refinancing deals, exited the western energy trading market and took other steps, such as selling some assets, to improve the company's financial position.

The only business to buy land from Allegheny in the business park was Mountainside Teleport Corp., a subsidiary of the international satellite communications company Intelsat Global Service Corp.

Mountainside also leases space in the former Allegheny headquarters building, Fletcher said.

Fletcher would not say how many prospects have looked at the properties.

As of Monday, there were only five or six Allegheny maintenance employees left at the Downsville Pike building, Fletcher said. They will be transferred to the Williamsport Regional Headquarters on Bower Avenue after the building is sold, he said.

Including those maintenance employees, 20 employees were or will be transferred to the Williamsport office, Fletcher said.

Fifteen executives moved to Greensburg, which has a total of 900 Allegheny employees, Fletcher said.

Ten employees were laid off, he said.

That leaves approximately 190 Allegheny employees in Washington County with about 140 at the Williamsport Regional Headquarters, formerly known as the Williamsport Service Center, and 52 at the R. Paul Smith Power Station in Williamsport, Fletcher said.

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