Here's a question to ponder during your Thanksgiving holiday conversations.
When it comes to warehouses in Washington County, just how big is big?
Several of the individual warehouse buildings measure in at about 1 million square feet. But what does that mean, exactly?
What could you fit into a building that covers 1 million square feet?
A lot, as it turns out.
Like a couple of Eiffel Towers. Or a few football fields, depending on how you arrange them. Or nearly 50 Boeing 737 jets.
"We've done a 12,000-square-foot (residential) house," said architect Scott Bowen of Hagerstown-based MSB architects. "At a million square feet, you could fit a lot of them in there."
Bowen and the MSB staff were kind enough to crunch some numbers at The Herald-Mail's request to come up with those examples.
In another example, by their calculations, you could slide about 990 school buses into a warehouse of a million square feet, like the NorthPoint building at 1115 Wesel Blvd. that is being used by Amazon.
Nearly 1,000 school buses.
Under one roof.
Bear in mind that Washington County Public Schools' entire armada of buses numbers about 220 — 174 vehicles in the WCPS fleet, including spares and activity buses, augmented by 46 contractor buses, according to WCPS spokeswoman Erin Anderson.
Can't relate to buses?
How about buildings?
"That warehouse could hold all of our WCPS high schools, except for maybe Boonsboro High School," Anderson wrote in an email.
For this exercise, we're just considering the square footage — basically the floor space. We're not taking into account the height or total volume of buildings. Nor are we considering the shape of that footprint — just the total square footage.
All together, the county's nine public high schools total about 1.15 million square feet, according to information provided by Anderson.
If you clip Boonsboro High School, at 142,319 square feet, out of that list, the other high schools would just about fill the warehouse.
For comparison, Washington County's biggest high school, North Hagerstown High School, measures 168,750 square feet. It would take up about 17% of the space. The smallest, the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts and Vincent Rauth Groh Academic Center, measures 81,495 and would need only 8%.
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And the Wesel Boulevard building, part of a four-building development totaling about 2.2 million square feet, is just one of the area's 1-million-square-foot warehouses.
By way of examples — not an all-inclusive list — the Preylock Holdings building being used by Amazon at 13905 Crayton Blvd. tops the 1 million mark. So does the Staples Distribution Center at 11450 Hopewell Road.
Developers and economic development officials have said the surge in shipping, spurred in part by online shopping and to-your-door delivery, is behind the need for increased warehouse space.
This area is a good site for such facilities, they have said, because interstates 81 and 70 provide ready access to population centers up and down the East Coast and to the west as well.
According to county and city records, more big warehouses are on the way or are being proposed. Some of those include:
Two warehouses, one of nearly 1.7 million square feet and one of about 270,000 square feet, are proposed for a site at 1527 Howell Road on the southeast side of Hagerstown.
Two warehouses, one of 1 million square feet and another of 652,080 square feet, are planned for a site at 16822 National Pike west of Hagerstown and I-81.
Two warehouses, one of about 1.2 million square feet and a second of about 597,000 square feet, are being planned for the former Review and Herald Publishing Co. property at 55 W. Oak Ridge Drive just south of Hagerstown.
'That's a lot'
You also can get a feel for the size of warehouses by comparing them to regular houses.
The architectural skills of Bowen and the MSB staff, along with stats from Craig Harshman, broker and owner of Hagerstown Management Corp. and 2021 president of Pen-Mar Realtors, helped crunch those numbers.
The average house sold in Washington County is about 2,000 square feet, perhaps a little more, Harshman said.
At that size, you could put 500 single-family homes into a 1-million-square-foot warehouse.
Bump it up a bit, to a larger, 3,000-square-foot home. You could still get 333 into the warehouse.
While the 12,000-square-foot house his firm once designed is larger than normal, Bowen estimated most houses fall between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. Roughly 400 houses could squeeze into a million-foot warehouse.
"That's a lot," he said with a laugh.
Mike Lewis covers business, the economy and other issues. Follow Mike on Twitter at MiLewis.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: What could you put inside a million-square-foot warehouse