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June 14, 2021

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The city has awarded more than $300,000 in federal grants to a handful of rehabilitation projects estimated to bring $4 million in capital investment to the Downtown Historic District.

In September, the city received $583,185 to create a grant program to fund rehabilitations in the city’s historic district. The grant comes from the National Park Service’s Department of Interior. In November, city council members adopted guidelines and eligibility for the program, which includes a minimum capital investment of $100,000. The council gave final approval to several projects on Tuesday.

Grants can provide up to 25% of the project’s total cost, with the maximum amount set at $150,000. Criteria adopted were aimed at incentivizing projects compliment the Bell Tower Green Park, create residential units, rehabilitate older structures and commercial buildings, install sprinkler systems, add to the back alley fire loop system, create affordable housing, contract with minority-owned or women-owned businesses and substantially invest private funds.

The city began accepting applications in the fall, with nine applications received in the first round in December and five projects eligible in the second round of applications received in April. On April 27, a committee made selections and was able to fund all five projects with the maximum eligible amounts. Community Planning Director Hannah Jacobson said one of the developers still needs to finalize some details about the project. For that reason, council members moved forward with the approval of four projects, with the expectation that city staff will return for approval of the fifth project.

The biggest project approved so far is a complete rehabilitation of the Bell Block Building at 133 South Main St. Bill Greene of Greene Rock Development will receive $150,000 to convert the space into two commercial units and seven two-bedroom apartments. The total investment is estimated at $2.2 million.

Jacobson said the upper levels of the building on 133 South Main St. have been mostly untouched for 70-80 years and called the project “a preservation dream.”

A total of $28,091 was granted to Wilson Professional Realty for a project at the Holmes building, located at 121 W. Innes St. The project, which expects to invest more than $112,000, involves converting an upstairs office space into a one-bedroom apartment unit. Additionally, the project includes exterior repairs to columns, masonry and paint.

Dr. Derrick Anderson of Soldiers Memorial AME Zion Church was granted $36,250 for a project at 212 West Liberty St. — what’s known as the Glenn Manse house. The project would invest $145,000 and involve the restoration of exterior doors and windows as well as a complete interior restoration to bring the building up to code. The house is associated with the church.

A total of $93,750 was awarded to Jason Walser of Bell Tower Green Inc. for an exterior and interior restoration in anticipation of a restaurant at the Wrenn House, located at 115 South Jackson St. and also known as the Historic Female Academy Building. Walser estimates the total capital investment to be $1.3 million. The project will also involve the installation of a fire sprinkler system, the rebuilding of the front porch and an upgrade to the HVAC system.

The fifth project, Jacobson said, is eligible for the $150,000 funding maximum. Grants for all five projects total $458,091, and the combined investment is at least $3.75 million in the Salisbury Historic District.

“That’s almost $4 million worth of investment in our downtown. So, you had me at hello,” said council member Brian Miller. “All you had to do was give me the numbers there.”

Miller added that he was particularly excited about the residential units being proposed in the downtown area.

Approximately $42,000 in funding remains, with another call for applications anticipated this fall. Additionally, both the city and the Salisbury-Rowan Utilities has agreed to provide $100,000 in matching funds for fire suppression grants, which can be applied for separately. An emphasis is placed on projects that involve back alley fire loop construction.

For more information about the city’s grants and incentives, visit salisburync.gov/Government/Community-Planning-Services/Grants-and-Incentives.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246. 

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