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Maryland giving armory to ABC

October 28, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The state of Maryland is giving the vacant Hagerstown Armory at 328 N. Potomac St. to a construction trade group, two years after a similar agreement fell through.

The State Military Department will give the 78-year-old armory to the City of Hagerstown, which will transfer it to Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., Cumberland Valley Chapter, at no cost.

ABC plans to open a building skills training center there.

State Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, announced the transaction Wednesday morning at a Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce breakfast forum in Halfway.

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He said the transfer might be completed within a week. Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said it might take about two weeks.

During an interview Wednesday afternoon, Munson said it will cost about $1.5 million to repair the building, which has been vacant for about seven years.

Munson said it's in poor shape. Lead and asbestos will have to be removed, he said. "The state was negligent," he said.

On July 21, according to minutes, Munson told the Maryland Board of Public Works, "The building's leaked for the better part of 30 years. Indeed it's got 100 dead animals in it at the moment."

The Board of Public Works approved the transfer that day.

On Wednesday, Munson amended his estimate. He said his estimate of 100 dead animals was based on something he heard. When he toured the building, he found 10, he said.

A Board of Public Works summary said the building is 22,224 square feet and sits on .56 acres.

One potential problem was parking. However, the nearby Trinity Lutheran Church agreed to give up some of its parking lot in exchange for space for a food pantry in the new ABC building, Munson said.

Church officials couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Breichner said a state grant will contribute $200,000 for improving the building. ABC must match the grant, although the organization could contribute labor instead of money, he said.

Asked if it was unusual that the transfer wasn't complete three months after it was approved, Munson said it was not. He said there is a lot of paperwork.

A final part of the negotiations was with the Maryland Historical Trust, which had an easement for the property, Breichner said.

He said that has been resolved.

A representative from the Maryland Historical Trust did not return a call for comment.

Joan Warner, ABC's president, also wasn't available for comment Wednesday.

A similar deal to transfer the building to ABC was struck in 2001, but the Maryland Board of Public Works rejected the proposal the following year, citing the need for public bids.

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