Cumberland Times-News

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September 19, 2013

Company hopes to buy, renovate Old Towne Manor

Remodel could create dozens of labor jobs

CUMBERLAND — A company that already owns rental properties in the area is hoping to purchase and renovate Old Towne Manor. The Hampstead Companies are asking the county to accept a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement with Hampstead Old Towne Partners.

“The best example of our work is the former William Booth Tower (now Mountain View Apartments). It’s a great visual of what we can do ... about rehabilitating and making use of an old property,” said Patrick Harper, a representative of Hampstead.

The company recently bought The Cumberland Arms Apartments, a 69-unit retirement facility on Liberty Street, for $4.1 million. Harper discussed the planned project with Allegany County commissioners on Thursday.

Old Towne Manor has 138 apartments with a 95 percent-plus historical occupancy rate. The property has not been fully remodeled since construction in 1969, although windows and siding were replaced recently. The current apartments need kitchens, baths and other remodeling. A new community center is also planned for the property, Harper said. The cost of the upgrades will be about $35,000 per unit.

Harper said the remodeling would likely generate 13 local jobs and 31 spin-off jobs. Allegany County Commissioner Michael McKay said he wanted to make sure those jobs were staffed by local workers and not from people brought in from out of town.

If the property purchase closes in March 2014, as expected, work will begin within 30 days and be completed by the end of 2014, Harper said.

The PILOT agreement would keep the current tax rate of $19,500 in effect for the next 17 years, with increases during that time tied to the consumer price index.

The company’s main office is in California, but it also has an office in Maryland. The company specializes in acquiring Section 8, or Housing and Urban Development, facilities. The company has renovated about 4,000 affordable units nationwide, Harper said.

In other business, commissioners agreed to award a $963,527 contract for the second phase of the Rawlings water project to Lashley Construction Co., Inc., of Frostburg. Lashley was the low bidder on the project, said Adam Patterson, a county engineer.

The project will bring clean water and reliable water service to the Rawlings area. The first phase of the project is under construction and scheduled for completion in the fall.

The second phase of the project will provide water service to about 350 customers in the Rawlings area. About $4.2 million of the $5.4 million for the total project, including all phases, will be paid for by grants and low-interest loans, he said.

Rawlings needs complete replacement of its water and sewer system.

The commission business meeting took place at county offices on Kelly Road.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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