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Property for school turned over to nonprofit group

August 15, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to transfer city-owned property to the Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. for a new performing arts school.

The property at 9-11 S. Potomac St. is to be renovated and become the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, which is expected to open in 2009.

The transfer to a nonprofit organization allows the Washington County Board of Education to qualify for tax credits and other grants to be used to offset renovation costs for the property, officials have said.

In a letter to Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said that state bonds and grants totaling $912,000 have been secured for the project.

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"I just want to know ... is it actually going to happen," Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said.

A city official said the Board of Education had some final details to work through.

Board members assured the public during a July meeting that the school will open. The board voted unanimously at that time to adopt a resolution that includes a cap on the amount of money that can be borrowed for the downtown arts school.

Financing will not exceed $8,324,000, with an interest rate of no more than 6 percent, according to the resolution.

Original estimates included about $11.5 million in borrowed money for the school.

That vote was the second change from original funding plans for the school. In March, the board voted to fund the school through the Maryland Economic Development Corp., but rescinded that vote in June after deciding that a long-term lease would be more cost-effective. At that time, the board put no restraints on the amount to be borrowed or the anticipated interest rate.

The property once housed Henry's Theatre and the Elks Lodge.

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