By HEATHER KEELS - Herald-Mail
A 55,555 square-foot, three-story office building under construction at Fountainhead Plaza near Hagerstown is expected to be completed by December, developer Asad Ghattas said Tuesday after a groundbreaking ceremony.
At the ceremony, Washington County officials recognized the Fountainhead One Professional Offices project as one of the first to take advantage of two county incentive programs, a "pad-ready" stimulus program and a "green building" tax credit for high-performance commercial buildings.
"If you don’t think this is a great thing for Washington County, just look out there at all the workers," Washington County Board of Commissioners President Terry Baker said, gesturing at the workers in hard hats and fluorescent vests working on the former Martin’s Food Market site.
"They’re the beneficiaries of everything that’s happening here, and it’s just going to continue with these pad-ready and green building initiatives."
The shopping center’s anchor space had been vacant for about three years after Martin’s decided to move to a larger site where it could add gas pumps, Ghattas said.
"I tried to market it to the best of my ability, and we couldn’t get anybody to really take the whole space," he said.
But when his architect showed him a design that would fit more than 50,000 square feet of office space in about half the footprint of Martin’s, leaving room for an area of green space around the building, Ghattas said he was interested.
The availability of the county’s pad-ready incentive helped seal the deal, and the green building tax credit contributed to his decision to pursue silver-level LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification, Ghattas said.
The pad-ready program is for projects in commercial or industrial zones that take an undeveloped site to a ready-to-build state or demolish, renovate or expand a building in need of redevelopment.
It expedites aspects of the county’s planning and review process, defers some costs and offers a property tax credit after a building is constructed on the site.
The high-performance, tax-credit program provides property tax credits for construction of LEED-certified commercial buildings.
The company was able to recycle 93 percent of the rubble from the demolition of Martin’s, and recycled materials will be used as much as possible in the new office building, he said.
Demolition of Martin’s began around February, Ghattas said. The work is being done by Waynesboro Construction.
Ghattas said he had had "serious inquiries" about space in the office building, but had not signed any tenants yet.