Excerpt from Herald-Mail Media:

The design of the proposed $13 million expansion of The Maryland Theatre received its final approval from the city, and now just needs to work out a few kinks before the project can move forward.

The Hagerstown Historic District Commission approved the design of the 30,000-square-foot expansion during its meeting Thursday, subject to resolving a small issue with the building next door — the First Hose Co. of Hagerstown.

Stephen Bockmiller, development review planner and zoning administrator for the city’s Planning and Zoning Department, said a cornice on the fire company’s building overhangs onto the theater’s property.

Jessica Green, executive director of The Maryland Theatre, said it has reached out to the fire company about the issue but has not yet heard back. She said the cornice on top of the right side of the building would get in the way of a proposed stairwell in the theater’s project. The stairwell is to be taller than the fire company building, meaning the corner of the cornice would have to be removed.

Aside from the physical obstacle, the theater also must have in hand all the money needed to pay for the entire project before any renovations can begin. That includes the demolition of the McBare building, which is the entryway portion of the existing theater.

The condition is meant to prevent the theater from demolishing part of the building, then not being able to afford to rebuild, leaving an eyesore in the city’s Arts and Entertainment District.

Green said the theater board has $7 million of the $13 million secured, and hopes to have another million in funding by the end of the year. The theater also requested an additional $3 million from the City of Hagerstown and Washington County during a joint-meeting held Tuesday afternoon. No decisions regarding that request have been made.

Green and Sue Hains, project architect from Grimm & Parker Architects, presented all potential design elements, such as paint schemes, to the historic district commission during a meeting in August. Thursday’s presentation was made to get approval for the design elements the theater board and architects want to go with.

The vision for the downtown theater project is to preserve, restore and maintain the historic landmark, while creating much-needed updates to the overall theater experience, Hains stated in the August meeting. She said the design accents for the new building were inspired by the original theater, as well as by other features downtown.

The theater hopes to sign with a contractor by March and begin construction July 1.