Hagerstown City Council to discuss purchasing former Holiday Motel
The Hagerstown City Council is expected to discuss the possible purchase of the former Holiday Motel at the corner of West Washington and North Prospect streets on Tuesday. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / January 7, 2013)
Armed with search warrants, city and county officials inspected every room in the motel and found numerous health and building code violations, prompting its closure nearly eight years ago, according to Herald-Mail archives.
In a Jan. 4 memo to City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman, John Lestitian, the city’s director of economic and community development, said the blighted structure at the corner of West Washington and North Prospect streets has been vacant since October 2005.
Amid recent word that an investor wants to purchase the property and reopen the motel, city staff members are “seriously concerned” and want to buy the foreclosed property from the bank, Lestitian said in the memo.
The topic will be up for discussion at the Hagerstown City Council meeting Tuesday, starting at 4 p.m. at City Hall.
A different investor bought the property for $1.1 million in 2007 with intentions of redeveloping the site into office condominiums. The project did not go as planned and the property was foreclosed upon by the Frederick County Bank.
About a year ago, the city attempted to purchase the property, which has been for sale since the bank foreclosure. The city’s goal was to demolish the motel portion and market the rest of the property for potential redevelopment.
At that time, the bank was not interested, “as they were attempting to recoup as much of their loss as possible,” Lestitian wrote in his memo. The city has kept tabs on new developments of the property ever since.
Lestitian said city staff recently learned that the bank received a written offer from an “out-of-area” investor who wants to acquire the property and eventually reopen the motel.
“While staff do not know the identity of this out-of-area investor or the details of the investor’s plans, staff are seriously concerned about this development,” Lestitian wrote in the memo.
With the current condition of the property and the state of the economy, city staff believe it is “highly unlikely” that reopening the motel would benefit the city’s goal of revitalizing the downtown area while working to protect existing neighborhoods and area investments, Lestitian said.
The building is in a “transitional area,” according to Lestitian, which means it’s in an area that needs support and redevelopment. Properties on opposite corners include a church, a church/school and a city-owned parking lot.
Additionally, approximately 50 percent of the residents in that area are at or below the poverty level and unemployment is nearly 30 percent, Lestitian said.
According to his memo, Lestitian said the condition and use of the property ultimately will have a direct impact on the following:
• The Historic Heights Neighborhood, which has a long-term active Neighborhoods 1st organization that has helped improve the area over the years.
• An upscale condominium project on South Prospect Street and other similar residential investments in the area.
• The aforementioned church and church/school across the street.
• Additional private investment in the area, including the recent commercial renovations at 138 W. Washington St.