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Council members say warehouse sale could hurt festivals

January 17, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Members of the Hagerstown City Council expressed skepticism Tuesday about selling the Tusing Warehouse to a developer, saying renovation plans might interfere with downtown festivals later this year.

Stamper Properties LLC of Hagerstown wants to buy the property at 58 E. Washington St. from the city for $110,000.

The renovation plan includes an event center on the first floor for conferences, recitals and art shows, among other things, according to a development proposal. The second floor would be made into a space for banquets, weddings and other activities for private and community-based groups.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he was concerned that Stamper Properties' plan to build a 20-foot-by-70-foot addition to the warehouse's west wall, where the Western Maryland Blues Fest stage normally sits, might cause event organizers to find an alternate and less favorable place for bands to perform.

He asked Eric B. Deike, Hagerstown's manager of public works, whether the renovation would have a negative effect on the event.

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"I really won't know until the project is done," Deike said.

Metzner said he was not willing to support the building's sale "if that's going to be the answer."

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the addition shouldn't cause a problem, considering there's a possibility of moving the stage just feet from its old position.

The stage typically extends north and south along the building's west wall.

Bruchey suggested pivoting the stage outward until it runs perpendicular with the building. As a result, all that event organizers would have to do is change the direction that the audience faces from the east to the south.

"We will find a way to make this work," he said.

The council decided to put the issue back on the agenda within the next few weeks.

Deborah A. Everhart, Hagerstown's director of economic development, said the council could pass legislation to sell the building as early as Feb. 27, if an ordinance is introduced by Jan. 30.

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