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Legion has a buyer for some of its land

January 23, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Five lots next to a Hagerstown landmark are under contract for sale, and the prospective buyer said he will have the right to counter offers on the American Legion building next to the property on Northern Avenue.

Jerry Spessard said Monday that he and his wife, Debbie, plan to close Feb. 1 on a five-lot parcel next to Morris Frock American Legion Post 42, where they plan to build eight brick homes. Spessard said the deal would give them the right of first refusal on the sale of the American Legion building, which members voted to sell in August 2005.

The building sale likely would not happen until the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009, said Spessard, who would not disclose the financial details of the pending sale.

"I want a win-win, O.K.? I plan on buying it unless someone wants to give them a much better offer than mine," Spessard said.

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He called the right-of-first-refusal agreement "an escape clause" that would allow the post to accept a purchasing price higher than what he would offer.

The Herald-Mail reported in March 2006 that Frank Getz, post commander at the time, said the post was asking $2.5 million for the building and the land surrounding it.

Ron Bowers, a real-estate agent who represents the post, said the lot that Spessard is purchasing covers less than two acres. Bowers would not reveal the price of the parcel.

That property is separate from the post's building and a surrounding parcel that covers about 7.45 acres, said Joan McLernon, a real-estate agent who also is working for the post.

McLernon said she and another agent are working to sell the bigger property and the building. She said they have "a very interested party" in the building, but she said that party was someone other than Spessard.

The details of the lot sale still are being worked out, but it is "extremely likely" that Spessard would win the right to match offers on the building, Bowers said.

Bowers said his representation of the post does not cover the sale of the building.

Post members reached Monday directed questions about the properties to their post commander, who is listed as Ivan R. Young Jr. on the post's Web site. Young was not at the post Monday, and his number is not listed.

Spessard said he has not determined what he would do with the building if he bought it. The eight homes he envisions on the five lots he is buying will feature two stories above walk-out basements, and they will face Woodland Way, he said.

"I want to start them as soon as possible, but you know, there's so much daggone red tape that you have to jump through in this city," Spessard said.

Spessard said he also plans to donate land to the City of Hagerstown for a park, but that will be subject to the City Council's approval.

Gary Glocker, a commercial real-estate agent who represented the post for a time after members decided to sell the building, said the former Hagerstown Country Club has been around since about the 1940s. It covers about 40,000 square feet, Glocker said.

Spessard, a post member, said the building has become too big as membership has declined.

"There are so many other forms of socializing ... other than American Legions and VFWs and things of that nature," Spessard said.

Spessard said the building probably could be better used now.

"This is a tremendous part of the culture of Hagerstown. This is a beautiful building," Spessard said.

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