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Developer say Hagerstown needs more quality apartments

January 11, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - A local developer wants to revitalize Hagerstown by bringing more upscale restaurants and retail space downtown.

Mike Deming of Demcore Development talked about his vision for downtown during a Wednesday breakfast that was attended by about 100 people at the Country Inn & Suites near Valley Mall.

The 29-year-old Deming also spoke about residential opportunities downtown, particularly The Residences condominiums on South Potomac Street. A campaign should start in roughly 30 days to market the condominiums to the public, he said. Prices will start at $225,000.

Deming said he hopes The Residences will attract young professionals and older residents.

"The need is still there for quality apartments," he said. "That's something that needs to be addressed."

Deming said he is in the process of restoring apartments on East Washington and South Potomac streets. His idea involves bringing the apartments up to code and renting them to dependable tenants.

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Obtaining permits and downtown's lack of parking are the main obstacles that Deming said might stand in the way. But city officials have been open to his development plans, he said.

Besides owning several properties in downtown's arts and entertainment district, Deming sponsored last fall's Downtown Live!, an outdoor music festival on South Potomac Street that featured 10 bands, and food and drink specials at local restaurants.

Deming said further festivals are vital to downtown's success.

"These kind of events need to go on (downtown) to make it a vibrant community," he said. "I hope to do that on an annual basis."

Councilman Martin Brubaker, the city council's representative to the City Planning Commission, said he is very enthusiastic about Deming's plans, especially the "substantial (financial) investment in South Potomac Street between Public Square and the library."

Brubaker also expressed his approval that Deming is mixing residential, retail and office space in the same area and introducing festivals downtown.

To make the area more pedestrian friendly, the council decided in November to widen the east side of South Potomac Street between the Schindel-Rohrer building and Antietam Street, said City Engineer Rodney Tissue.

He said South Potomac Street property owners raised $35,000 for the project, the Maryland Heritage Area Program and will pay $55,000 and bond financing will cover $150,000.

If all goes well, Tissue said the project should be completed this summer.

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