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City Council to consider future of Alms House

February 06, 2007|by DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The City Council is expected to discuss during its work session today the sale of the Alms House on North Locust Street.

The Alms House was built in 1799 and served as a poorhouse in the early 19th century, said Larry Bayer, the city's community development director. The building most recently housed apartments on the top two floors and commercial space on the ground floor, he said.

Bayer said the Alms House has been vacant for about 15 years.

"We want to find a developer to rehabilitate it in an architectural manner consistent with the building ... yet up to modern codes," he said.

Some of the house's features, like two fireplaces, are original, Bayer said.

The city bought the house in 2004 for $90,000, he said. It was suggested during an earlier City Council meeting that the Alms House be leveled to make way for a parking lot. The council nixed that proposal, he said.

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Former Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he took part in those discussions.

"It's always better to consider the options of redevelopment first," he said.

Bayer said he isn't sure what price the city will put on the house. But a potential developer can use historic rehabilitation tax credits, federal and state tax incentives that are issued to save historic buildings, to purchase the home, he said.

In addition, Bayer said the county will offer the buyer a 10 percent discount on the building's property taxes.

The three-story building, in the 200 block of North Locust Street, is about 5,400 square feet, he said.

Hagerstown Restorations was interested in buying the building from the city last November and wanted to build about three residential units in the house, complemented by two commercial ones, Bayer said.

That deal recently fell through when Hagerstown Restorations decided not to pursue the project based on the level of required financial commitment, he said.

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