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Rejection recommended for Gordon's city loan requests

Hagerstown Redevelopment Authority wants council to deny applications

Hagerstown Redevelopment Authority wants council to deny applications

August 19, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- A city board on Wednesday recommended rejecting two more loan requests by a local attorney trying to open a downtown car-themed restaurant.

Tim Gordon, the applicant, said he wasn't surprised the Hagerstown Redevelopment Authority (HRA) opposed his requests.

Gordon said he's more interested in what the Hagerstown City Council, which has the final say, will do.

Gordon has lobbied for city loans to help transform a North Potomac Street building into a first-floor, classic-car showroom and a second-floor restaurant called Hubcaps Classic Car Cafe.

He has said his business can't open without the loans.

As part of Our Three Sons LLC, Gordon previously asked for $100,000 from an Upper Floors Revolving Fund, for renovating upper floors in downtown buildings, and $60,188 from the Hagerstown Revolving Loan Fund, for new and expanding businesses. The HRA denied both requests.

On Wednesday, the HRA voted 4-0 to recommend the city council deny two new applications -- $161,000 from the Hagerstown Revolving Loan Fund and $101,000 from the Upper Floors Revolving Fund.

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Larry Bayer, the city's director of community development, said the projects outlined in both requests were similar, but he wouldn't specify what they were.

Gordon has said he needs loans to help pay for an elevator and a sprinkler system.

There's no limit on the number of times a person may apply for those loans.

The HRA decides loan requests of $100,000 or less, but an applicant may appeal a decision to the city council. For loan applications more than $100,000, the HRA makes a recommendation to the city council, which decides.

Gordon, who didn't attend Wednesday's HRA meeting, said he'd use $310,000 in federal and state tax credits as collateral for his loan request from the city.

The HRA, "a bunch of conservative banker types," doesn't appreciate that approach, Gordon said.

"We're going to put it squarely in the council's lap," he said of his applications.

In November 2007, the city loaned Gordon $100,000 to rehabilitate 110 N. Potomac St., according to Karen M. Giffin, the city's community affairs director.

As of Aug. 10, the balance was $95,978, she wrote in an e-mail.

Bayer said Gordon is repaying that loan on schedule.

HRA Chairman Randy Catlett declined to explain why the authority recommended turning down Our Three Sons' requests.

Gordon has said he's putting personal money and assets into his business venture, so he's frustrated by delays in getting loans.

On Monday, Robert L. Orndorff Inc. of Smithsburg, trading as A.W. Orndorff Plumbing & Heating, filed a complaint seeking a mechanic's lien against Our Three Sons LLC.

The complaint says Gordon, as general contractor, hired Orndorff on Dec. 29, 2008, to install two boilers at 110 N. Potomac St. The work was done by Feb. 20, 2009, but Gordon has failed to pay $18,659.96, the complaint says.

Gordon acknowledged that he's built up debts while waiting for city loans.

Last week, papers were filed in Washington County Circuit Court to foreclose on a house Gordon and his wife own just outside Hagerstown.

As of June 10, they owed $245,962.35 out of $270,000 in principal, according to court papers.

A notice says the couple defaulted on March 6 and had to pay $7,626.76 to cure the default.

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