Retrofitting builder has new project on Frederick Street

December 29, 2007|By ARNOLD S. PLATOU

HAGERSTOWN A Hagerstown businessman with a history of retrofitting old buildings for new uses has undertaken another such project.

Jeff Crampton said Thursday he is spending about $250,000 to renovate a 237-239 Frederick St. building, which most recently was used as an automotive garage.

When work is completed next May, the structure will contain 12 jumbo storage units, two offices and a second-story apartment, Crampton said.

The project is not the first - nor the last - Crampton plans for the four to five acres he owns in that block of Frederick Street.


Crampton, 49, said he has been a commercial contractor since the mid-1980s.

In 1987, Crampton bought a 150,000-square-foot building at 901 Pope Ave., he said. That building was used by several companies over time, including Victor Products Corp., which made ammunition during World War I and window air conditioners, and others that made caskets and the Pope and Dagmar cars.

Crampton renovated the building for use as an industrial warehouse, storing products for other companies. In 1992, he opened Pope Avenue Tire there, and in 1999, began converting another building on the property into 19 apartments.

In early 2001, Crampton bought the building at 237-239 Frederick St., intending to move his tire store business there.

"I needed to expand the tire business, and I didn't want to make the tenants around me move, plus I didn't really have a lot of drive-by traffic" on Pope, he said.

Before Crampton could move the business, he learned that property in the same block as his new purchase was about to become available, he said. So in June of that year, Crampton said, he bought the 261 Frederick St. property used by the Hamilton Pontiac Cadillac Nissan dealership, which was moving to Dual Highway.

When he moved his tire and auto repair business to 261 Frederick St., Crampton said, with a laugh, "I just couldn't think of a different name" for the business, so it stayed pretty much the same - Pope Tire & Repair Center.

Crampton has developed that property in other ways as well. In addition to renting part of the former dealership to two other businesses - Ex-Press Printing and Cadillac Motors - he built 65 storage units there. As proof of the need, all of them are rented, he said.

So the old building just up the street at 237-239 Frederick St., where roofers were at work this past week, also will contain storage units. Crampton said old signs and receipts he has found in the structure indicate uses by car dealerships and such companies as Creasey Co.

This spring, Crampton said he is planning to begin building 22 more storage units on land that connects the rear of the 237-239 and the 261 Frederick St. properties. That land, which is behind a couple of houses, is a fenced area once used as impound lots for cars, Crampton said.

"We're going to tear all that out and put a building there" to house the new storage units, Crampton said. "In all, we will have 105 storage units (in that block) by the end of next summer."

Crampton said he also owns a lot at 285 Frederick St., which is rented to Sam's Used Cars, which he said will stay.

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