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Downtown building might be turned into warehouse

October 16, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - "I'll probably just board up or brick out the windows and rent it out as warehouse space," Craig Mahrle said on Sunday night, just hours after learning about a Waynesboro Borough Council decision that hinders his plans to convert an old West Main Street factory into condominiums.

Mahrle, owner of the former Beck & Benedict Hardware Store and vacant factory behind it, had asked the council to use spaces in the public Rotary parking lot to fulfill borough ordinance requirements. Under the ordinance, he would have needed 20 off-street spaces for his four existing apartments and proposed six condominiums.

The council at a special meeting Thursday rejected the request, which Mahrle said he made as he looked into renovating the property.

"I had hoped to work with the council to solve that problem," Mahrle said.

Mahrle, who has owned 84 W. Main St. for a year and a half, has used state grant money to rehabilitate the building's facade. He said he felt the condominiums would have been more beneficial to the downtown revitalization effort than a warehouse.

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"Several people asked me about that, but I was holding off, trying to do something more productive downtown," Mahrle said.

He said he "can't imagine they'd require parking for" warehouses.

The desire to convert the rear building into condominiums led Mahrle to explore several options, including opening the ground level to vehicle traffic.

"An engineer told me it would just cost a ridiculous amount of money," Mahrle said.

He also had concerns about lease expirations if renting spaces from adjacent property owners.

"Renting spaces doesn't provide for a long-term solution," Mahrle said.

Tenants of the hardware store apartments, which had parking through a grandfather clause with the ordinance, use the Rotary lot, Mahrle said.

Mahrle said he doesn't plan to return to the council with another parking request. A warehouse will turn a profit without leaving him to "deal with headaches," he said.

Mahrle expressed disappointment that the council turned down the request and has not provided him with suggested solutions.

"They have a lot of cool-looking old buildings, and it would be nice if they could be used for something," Mahrle said.

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