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Shaool pulling his rugs out of downtown

October 08, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Manny Shaool is moving his rug business - a 25-year fixture in Hagerstown's downtown core - next spring.

Manny's Oriental Rugs will move from West Washington Street to the former Tristate Electrical & Electronics Supply Co. building on Dual Highway, east of Edgewood Drive.

Shaool said Thursday that the city government's inability to help him finance a development proposal spurred his decision.

Shaool had proposed transforming his rug shop building, 72-74 W. Washington St., into a one-stop design and home construction center.

In addition, he wanted to buy 47-53 W. Washington, across the street, and turn it into a bookstore, a coffee shop, a club and offices.

He wanted the city to finance some of the renovation costs.

"We could not get any kind of help from the City of Hagerstown," Shaool said. "I'm not putting them down. They said they couldn't do anything for us. ... I just feel bad that I'm forced to move out of downtown."

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Deborah Everhart, the city's economic development coordinator, said Shaool asked for money the city could not give.

Everhart said Shaool wanted the city to buy a building he owns on Franklin Street for $250,000, demolish it and put in public parking. The City Council countered with an offer of up to $100,000 toward the cost of demolition, but there was no deal, she said.

Everhart said Shaool's move to Dual Highway - still within the city limits - is not a surprise.

"I think he's just making a business decision," she said. "That doesn't mean downtown is bad."

The flight of Manny's Oriental Rugs comes as the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown campus prepares to open in January. City officials are banking on the campus and other development projects improving the vitality of downtown.

Hagemeyer N.V. of the Netherlands bought Tristate Electrical Supply, a distribution company, in 1999.

Hagemeyer North America, Tristate's new name after the sale, moved its offices to Insurance Way - off West Washington Street, west of Hagerstown - in October 2003, Administrative Assistant Jill Spalding said.

The Dual Highway building has been vacant since then, she said.

The sale from Waltersdorf Family Partnership to Shaool was finalized on Sept. 27, according to John M. Waltersdorf, who was Tristate's president and chief executive officer. He said his children own the corporation.

He would not give the sale price. A record of the transaction had not been posted at the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation's Web site as of Thursday afternoon.

Shaool said he expects to have about the same amount of space in the Tristate building, which will hold the rug store, a design center and the offices of his development business.

Having a parking lot and carport and being near Interstate 70, more convenient for out-of-area customers, will make a significant difference, he said.

"I'm sure we are going to do much better," he said.

The only reason he stayed on West Washington Street so long, he said, was "to be loyal to downtown."

Signs advertising the closing went up at Manny's Oriental Rugs last week. Shaool said he hopes the move will happen by March or April.

Shaool said his rug shop moved into its current building, which he plans to keep, in 1979.

The next step for the building hasn't been decided.

Shaool wants the city and the state to provide incentives to help him arrange for another business to move in. "Otherwise, I will board it up," he said.

Everhart said it could make a good spot for an antique shop. Shaool has expressed interest in putting residential units on the upper floors, she said.

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