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Owner weighs tearing down building

October 23, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- A property owner is considering tearing down a condemned downtown building.

Demcore, under the name Lohr Building LLC, owns 27-29 W. Antietam St.

Representing the owners, Rick Deming told the city's Historic District Commission on Wednesday that the company wants to demolish the building.

John Lestitian, Hagerstown's chief code compliance officer, said the building's two wings have significant water damage "and the roofs have collapsed."

The wings are attached to a three-story main section. Based on the Italianate architecture style, the main section might date to the 1870s or 1880s, commission Chairman Robert Hershey said.

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Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation records say it was built in 1900, but maps show a building there by the 1880s.

The vacant building is uninhabitable and could be dangerous to police or fire officials responding to a call there, Lestitian said. He noted that the city has not ordered the building to be demolished.

Wednesday's discussion was preliminary. Hershey told Deming that the commission must see a structural engineering report before talking more about whether the building should be demolished.

"I don't see how we can even give you any direction if we don't have that," Hershey said.

The commission approves changes to the look of buildings in the city's historic district.

If Lohr Building LLC got the commission's approval -- a certificate of appropriateness -- it could apply to the city's permits and inspections department for a demolition permit.

Hershey said the owner would have to indicate its future building plans for the site.

"We don't do empty holes in the ground," he said.

Notices on the doors say the city condemned the building on Oct. 9.

A sign hanging crookedly in the window is left from when a bail bond office was there.

The building immediately to the west -- 31-33 W. Antietam St. -- was condemned March 23, according to a posted sign.

That building, which once housed another bail bond company, is owned by A&S Associates LLC of McLean, Va.

Lestitian said after the meeting that the city started a program a few years ago in which it inspects vacant buildings.

"We want to arrest deterioration and make sure a building is safe," he said.

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