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Senior housing planned for site of former gas station

August 14, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Housing Authority plans to build 60 apartments for senior citizens at 55 W. Baltimore St., the site of the former H.L. Mills service station.

The authority submitted a site plan to the city last week.

Ted Shankle, the authority's executive director, estimated the project cost at $13 million.

The authority has applied for $10 million in federal stimulus money. The project would take about 18 months with the stimulus money, twice as long without the stimulus money, Shankle said.

The idea has been in the works for about three years, when the authority replaced a 210-unit public housing complex in Hagerstown's West End.

The new development, Gateway Crossing, has 150 units of public housing -- 60 fewer than were there before -- and 140 other units.

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The proposed 60 apartments on West Baltimore Street would make up for the fewer public housing units at Gateway Crossing, Shankle said.

The new apartments would be between West Baltimore and West Lee streets -- close to the authority's Potomac Towers, which has 376 units, and the housing authority's office.

The new apartments would be designated as senior-citizen housing, probably limited to people at least 55 years old.

Shankle said the housing authority also might build an urgent-care center and pharmacy on the parcel.

"I'm trying to build a campus for the elderly," he said.

Maureen Theriault, a spokeswoman for Washington County Health System, the parent organization of Washington County Hospital, said the site is one of several that have been considered for an urgent-care facility. She wasn't sure which sites still are in the running.

Shankle said the waiting list in the city for subsidized housing is much higher for families than for senior citizens, but family units are more "politically unfavorable."

He said he hopes Washington County builds more family units.

The West Baltimore Street apartment building would have four stories. Shankle said the square footage hasn't been determined.

Two vacant buildings that sit on the parcel will be demolished.

Shankle said the plans for the apartments were designed about three years ago and were updated before the housing authority submitted them to the city.

He said the authority has a good chance of getting $10 million from $1 billion being awarded to housing authorities through President Obama's federal stimulus plan. The money is being awarded through a competitive application process.

Another $3 billion in stimulus money has been added to a capital fund for housing authorities. Hagerstown Housing Authority has received $2.4 million of that $3 billion.

If the housing authority gets the $10 million it requested, the rest of the money will come from $500,000 in the authority's reserves and $2.5 million from a bond that will be converted into tax credits, Shankle said.

If the $10 million request is denied, the housing authority will seek state funding. Shankle said the state is paying more per square foot than in recent years and construction costs have dropped.

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