Maryland Theatre getting $800K more from Washington County for expansion

The Maryland Theatre is getting $800,225 more from Washington County to help with a theater expansion expected to be ready in October.

That puts the county government’s total contribution at $2.5 million for the almost $15.3 million theater project.

The county also has provided $5 million to pay bills as they come in for the greater Urban Improvement Project in downtown Hagerstown. The project includes an addition for Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. The county is to be reimbursed — for bills paid from the $5 million pot — by state money expected in future years.

The downtown projects are expected to help economic development in the city’s core.

The theater expansion is expected to come in under budget, Executive Director Jessica Green told the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

The amount under budget has not been determined, but any savings could lower the projected shortfall of approximately $900,000, she said in a phone interview after the meeting.

The commissioners agreed to give the theater a $345,225 reimbursement from the state instead of keeping the money. The reimbursement is for part of the $500,000 the county paid for design costs for the theater project. Not all of the design costs were eligible for reimbursement, county Grant Management Director Susan Buchanan said.

The commissioners also approved providing the theater $455,000 in hotel-tax revenues over four years. So the theater will get $113,750 a year for four years. That works out to about 16% to 19% of the $600,000 to $700,000 the county has available annually in hotel-tax revenue.

Green said theater and county officials have been discussing other ways the county could help with funding after the commissioners agreed in December to provide $1 million of the $2 million theater officials requested.

The commissioners voted unanimously on both funding requests.

The theater has raised just shy of $6 million, Green said. The third fundraising phase has begun. The theater is selling bricks for $1,000 each. Each brick will be engraved with the sponsor’s name and will go in the front sidewalk.

Green said she expects tours to be available for potential clients and donors by Memorial Day. A stairwell, to provide access to the top floor, was delivered Tuesday and will take about three weeks to install.

The bulk of the expansion is anticipated to be done by September, so furniture and equipment can be installed, she said. A grand opening is planned for Oct. 11.

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