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Public meeting planned on redevelopment of former Washington County Hospital properties

President of Meritus believes consultants have developed a 'workable plan'

January 29, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • The circle drive at the main entrance of the old Washington County Hospital is visible in the snow in this photo taken Friday afternoon.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

A public meeting to gain input into the proposed redevelopment concept plan for the former Washington County Hospital properties in Hagerstown’s East End will be held this week.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 1 E. Franklin St., city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe said in a news release.

Wolfe said consulting partners of Meritus Health, which owns the largely vacant tracts of land between East Washington and East Baltimore streets, plus a large parking lot along Mill Street, will present their plan to the city’s planning commission and the public to receive feedback from both groups.

Joseph P. Ross, president and chief executive officer of Meritus, on Jan. 24 said that he believes the consultants have developed a “workable plan” thus far.

“We haven’t gotten everyone’s reaction to it yet, so it’s still very much a concept ... and we’re looking forward to their reaction,” Ross said. “I’m sure they’ll have some concerns, and we’ll take those back and try to integrate those into our thinking.”

Kathy Maher, director of planning for the city, said in the release that the results of Wednesday’s meeting will be shared with Mayor David S. Gysberts and the Hagerstown City Council.

“The community as a whole is a significant stakeholder in this discussion, as whatever is developed on these properties will create significant change in our city,” she said. “At this meeting, the city hopes to hear from more nearby property owners and residents who will most closely experience any changes to these properties.”

The first meeting to develop a concept plan for the properties, viewed as the potential new eastern “gateway” to the city, was held in July 2012. Meritus rolled out its initial plan at a public meeting this past November.

At the November meeting, officials presented a concept plan that included:

• Two large office and medical buildings — 45,000 square feet and 44,000 square feet, respectively — next to the existing parking garage between East Washington and East Antietam streets.

• Sixty-nine town houses with two-car rear garages on the former hospital site and East Baltimore Street.

• A public park on part of the former hospital site.

• Two one-story warehousing facilities, each measuring 18,000 square feet, with adjacent parking areas along Mill Street.

• Additional retail/office space on East Franklin Street, plus repaving of existing parking lots between East Franklin and East Washington streets.

The total acreage of those properties is approximately 15 acres, Wolfe said.

Ross said the recent news of an outside real estate investment group expressing interest in creating a master redevelopment plan for the city as a whole is exciting, specifically for how it could affect this project.

“I think that work-force housing is viable there and I’m anxious to see how others react to that,” he said.

Meritus has contracted the services of Morris & Ritchie Associates Inc., partnering with Lipman Frizzel & Mitchell LLC and Geo-Technology Associates Inc., to develop the study of the area.

Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. is managing the project for Meritus. The study is funded in part by a grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership created a blog website where citizens can follow project updates and post comments. It can be found at http://washingtoncountyhospitalsite.wordpress.com.

Written comments also may be submitted to the city’s Planning and Code Administration Division at 1 E. Franklin St., Hagerstown, MD 21740; or by email at planning@hagerstownmd.org.

If you go...

What: Public meeting on redevelopment concept plan for former Washington County Hospital properties owned by Meritus Health
When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.
Where: Council chambers, Hagerstown City Hall, 1 E. Franklin St.

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