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Newly renovated Wareham Professional Center to officially open in downtown Hagerstown

March 12, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday for the newly renovated Wareham Professional Center, a building that once housed a bowling alley but has been converted to luxury business suites under a city redevelopment program.

The 138 W. Washington St. building, built in the early 1900s, has undergone $1 million in upgrades since Rafie Ansari purchased it five years ago, said Derek Heckman, of Re/Max Commercial, who is the rental agent representing the building.

The four-story building will be used for professional suites. Qualifying tenants will be eligible to receive up to $24,000 in rent relief over a three-year period as part of the city’s Partners in Economic Progress (PEP) program, according to Heckman.

Directed through the Hagerstown Department of Community and Economic Development, the center is one of seven building renovations approved since PEP’s 2009 inception, Downtown Manager Andrew Sargent said.

The building, Sargent said, is the fourth completed PEP-approved project.

Sargent said the initiative rewards property owners for investing in City Center.

“There are many ways the city can help a property owner make it less costly and more streamlined to bring their building up to current standards while making this investment,” Sargent said in an email Monday. “We can fast-track the construction process, reduce or remove permit fees, reduce utility connection fees, assist with a rehabilitation grant and we can offer some code flexibility to help make these projects happen.”

Ansari purchased the building when it was in a state of “disarray,” Heckman said.

His subsequent upgrades include new mechanicals, electric, a roof, windows and a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Each floor has a common area with a bathroom and kitchenette.

An attached parking garage accommodates around 40 cars with room for expansion, Heckman said. The PEP program allows Ansari to offer free parking for his tenants.

Formerly the Wareham Building, the structure has had many uses over the years, Heckman noted.

“This building has been everything from a bowling alley to a car dealership to professional offices and apartments,” he said. “So it’s got a lot of history.”

Many of the suites, ranging in size from one office space up to 17,000 square feet, remain shells, ready to suit the needs of prospective tenants.

Small spaces ideal for retail locations, such as a coffee shop, are also available on the lower level, Heckman said. 

A law firm has offices on the second floor.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m.

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