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Antietam Moose Lodge looking for a new home

August 24, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Plans for Antietam Moose Lodge 2435 to move into the building that housed The Grille at Park Circle are off the table due to a last-minute disagreement between the fraternal organization and the building's owner.

Moose lodge administrator Frank Carpenter said the organization is looking into other sites, and building owner Barbara Bristow said she is negotiating with a restaurant interested in leasing the Park Circle building.

The Moose lodge occupied the building on a verbal agreement throughout June and July and had planned a grand opening for Aug. 1, Carpenter said. But when Carpenter met with Bristow on July 29 to go over a final lease, their agreement fell apart, he said.

The parties had different explanations for what went wrong.

Bristow said the Moose did not honor its verbal commitment in regard to the rent it would pay for the months before the lease was signed.

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"There were some financial commitments made that became an issue, and I lost confidence in them as a prospective tenant," she said.

Last week, during an appearance before the Board of License Commissioners for Washington County, known as the liquor board, Carpenter said the lease Bristow presented to him July 29 was different than the terms they had discussed.

He said he had seen an earlier draft of the lease and requested five minor revisions at the advice of Moose International. Bristow said she would make the revisions, but when she presented the revised version July 29, there were 10 other issues, Carpenter told the liquor board.

Reached by phone last week, Bristow disputed Carpenter's account.

She said the only other change in the final version of the lease was that it called for a "substantial deposit" in exchange for keeping the utilities in Bristow's name.

She said the Moose lodge asked that the utilities remain in her name, and she initially was reluctant, but after speaking with her attorney, decided to allow it if the Moose provided the deposit. She said she discussed that with Moose lodge officials, but forgot to have it written into the earlier draft of the lease.

Now, Carpenter said the Moose is seeking reimbursement for the improvements it made to the building. The organization cleaned the building and repainted the interior, among other improvements, he said.

Bristow said she gave the Moose "serious concessions" in the rent for the time it was in the building to compensate for the money spent on the work, with the lodge receiving one month free and the rest of the time at half price. She said that was enough to compensate for the painting, cleaning and the installation of new ceiling tiles she provided, and no further compensation would be given.

Carpenter said the Moose had an attorney and planned to take legal action if necessary.

If the arrangement had gone through, the Park Circle location would have been the third home in less than three years for Antietam Moose Lodge 2435. The organization has been meeting at the Washington County AMVETS Post 10 building in Hagerstown, but has not had a place for social events since last August, when it moved out of the former Eclipse Nite Club building on Leitersburg Pike.

Before that, it was known as the Funkstown Moose and met at 132 Old National Pike, south of Hagerstown.

Liquor board officials told Carpenter they would hold the organization's liquor license so the Moose could apply for a transfer when it finalized a location.

Carpenter said he was looking for other locations and had a few under consideration, but he was not ready to name anything specific.

Bristow would not discuss details about her new prospective tenant Monday except to say it was a restaurant.

A sign hanging on the building Monday night said "Coming Soon Georgia Boy Café."

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