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Laurel's redevelopment authority buys Main Street property

Laurel's redevelopment authority has purchased the building formerly housing the Joke's on Us Comedy Club on Main Street with plans to demolish the structure and resell the property, the city announced this week. 

The dilapidated building is located at 312 Main St. and was purchased for $250,000 using city funds, according to Jack Brock, the city's deputy director of Community Planning and Business Services. 

Brock said the building is in "bad" condition, and he said the purpose of the purchase is to demolish the building and resell the space to a developer.

The property was purchased by the city's Community Redevelopment Authority, an affiliated entity made up of three citizens and two City Council members: Donna Crary and Mike Leszcz. The CRA approved the purchase at a July 22 meeting.

"The purpose of the CRA is to go in designated areas, such as Main Street, and buy properties that are not productive," Brock said. "Cleaning up, tearing down and reselling them for some kind of commercial use."

In 2013, the CRA bought the empty lot at 378 Main St., which is used by the Laurel Board of Trade for a Thursday Farmers Market.

Brock said the former Comedy Club building, built in 1935, has sat vacant for nearly seven years. He said it's been subject to vandalism and looting. The building is located on 14,000 square feet of land, about a third of an acre.

He said the CRA would either use city money or grant funds to demolish the structure, which he said would be too costly to salvage.

"The cost to rehabilitate that building would be at least $2 million, and it wouldn't be useful for a whole lot," he said.

Brock said the age of the building, and the fact that it is not compatible with American Disabilities Act standards, makes it tough to rehabilitate. 

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