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Developer wants shopping center on Leitersburg Pike

June 29, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN- A 250,000-square-foot shopping center is being planned for a 30-acre site off Leitersburg Pike that would be annexed into the City of Hagerstown, according to an official with the real estate development company ushering the plans.

The makeup of the shopping center is still being solidified, said Howard Biel, senior managing director for Faison, the project development company. Biel spoke in a telephone interview last week.

Those plans could include a Lowe's hardware store, according to literature posted on the company's Web site.

The annexation will be discussed in a public meeting tonight, and is one of several land annexations that are being considered. All told, there are about 130 acres of vacant land that could soon join city limits, much of which would be used for new homes and businesses.

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Biel said the company has been working on the project for about two years, and is poised to get the project under way.

"We are obviously actively working on the annexation," Biel said. The City Council last week voted to introduce the annexation, which would become official after a second vote to approve the annexation.

"We think that Hagerstown absolutely is a terrific marketplace and one that will only get much better in time," Biel said.

Biel said that if the approval process goes quickly, the project could open its doors in late 2006.

Biel described the plans as a "lifestyle and mixed-use" project, as well as a "community shopping center" that would appeal to nearby residents. He said the stores could include convenience, apparel, home goods, a bank or a grocery store.

The possible tenants include businesses that already exist in Hagerstown - such as ones that are along Dual Highway and at Valley Mall, Biel said - and ones that are new to the area.

The Web-based brochure also shows possible plans for a drug store and a gas station.

"We are talking to a range of tenants," Biel said.

Biel did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment about the Lowe's store.

A historic house on the site, which is being used as farmland, would remain. Biel said the house might be reused, possibly as a restaurant or gift shop.

The Faison project is in the early stages of the annexation process. Tonight's discussion before the City Planning Commission is to determine whether the proposed zoning on the site - C4 or regional shopping center - is appropriate.

The Planning Commission's recommendation on the zoning will be forwarded to the City Council, which will consider the recommendation along with public comment before a final vote, scheduled for late August. If the council approves the annexation, it would take effect 45 days later.

Once the annexation is complete, Faison likely would submit official site plans, beginning the city's development review process, said Stuart Bass, who is overseeing the annexation on behalf of the city.

There are four other proposed annexations under consideration by the city, and at least two more that could be submitted soon, city officials said, not including plans for Washington County Hospital.

n The Haven Road annexation, totaling 52 acres, would bring 376 homes under the most recent proposed annexation agreement between the developer and the city.

n The Light annexation, a 29-acre property east of Eastern Boulevard and south of Jefferson Boulevard, is proposed to be used commercially, but there are no specific plans yet.

n The Crumrine annexation, about 18 acres that lies next to the Light annexation, would bring in a single-family home.

n The Green annexation would bring in about .3 acres, which likely would be used residentially and for office space. That property is on Mount Aetna Road, west of Dual Highway.

n A plan to annex land off Western Maryland Parkway has been reviewed by the Planning Commission, but not submitted formally. City officials said the land would be used for a medical office complex. It also would trigger another annexation under a pre-existing agreement.

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