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Deck a big step for downtown

October 12, 2006

The opening of Hagerstown's new 188-space deck on South Potomac Street is another step forward in the revitalization of downtown Hagerstown and creation of an Arts & Entertainment District.

It is also a demonstration of the good things that can happen when local governments and private developers work together.

The $3.1-plus million structure was built with the help of major contributions from Bowman Development Corp. and the Washington County Commissioners.

Bowman is also renovating properties on the street, some of which have been vacant for many years.

Bowman's owner, Don Bowman, deserves congratulations because while property values in the city have been increasing, downtown is still in transition.

Bowman's commitment to downtown is not something that has developed lately. In 1998, he worked with the City Council on a proposal to renovate the Baldwin House, now home to the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, into office and retail space.

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The council chose another developer's proposal to create an apartment building there, a plan that fell through when financing couldn't be obtained.

Now, because of much hard work and cooperation, visitors to The Maryland Theatre will have convenient parking, as will students and faculty at the planned Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

The deck will also help the Masonic Temple, because its elevator has a rear door that opens into the group's ballroom, which would then be handicapped-accessble.

There is no one thing that will ensure downtown's success. It will take a series of steps and this is a big one indeed.

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