By C.J. LOVELACE
8:51 PM EDT, July 17, 2012
The University System of Maryland at Hagerstown will expand operations into an adjacent city-owned building downtown, city and university officials said Tuesday.
With the city council’s approval of the lease agreement expected next week, USMH will move into 60 W. Washington St. as the rear anchor tenant of the city’s small business incubator, adding space for three new classrooms, office space for faculty members and a new common area.
The initial lease is for five years, which began July 1 and runs through June 30, 2017, at an annual rent of $27,000 for the use of 2,700 square feet in the rear of the former CVS building, according to Christy Blake, the city’s Downtown Business Recruitment and Retention Manager.
“We are happy to see that the USMH is in a position to expand their programming, and delighted that we will continue to see educational opportunities in the City Center,” Blake said in a news release. “The city has always been pleased to have the university in our core, and we’re excited to work together in facilitating the growth of their educational programs.”
Dr. Mark Halsey, executive director of USMH, said the university is expecting increased enrollment this fall, and the building would be put to use immediately, allowing space for 95 additional students and six more faculty members.
“Our growth is resulting in the need for additional classroom space as well as faculty office space,” Halsey told the five-member council. “We just wanted to express our appreciation. This was a terrific foresight on behalf of the city and leaders ... to provide us with this opportunity to expand.”
Currently undergoing renovations, that portion of the building is expected to be completed by mid-August, city officials have said.
“I’m just very glad to see the educational footprint expand further downtown,” city Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said. “It’s a nice celebration.”
Once the first five-year lease expires, USMH will have the option to renew its lease twice more for five years each at an approximate cost increase of 5 percent, Blake said.
Since opening in 2005, program offerings at USMH have expanded to more than 40 options with six participating educational institutions.
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