LandTrust, Downtown Salisbury moving into Gateway Building

SALISBURY — Things are about to get cozy at the Gateway Building.

Two more organizations — the LandTrust for Central North Carolina and Downtown Salisbury Inc. — are moving into 204 E. Innes St., bringing the Gateway to full occupancy and making the 12-year-old building a nonprofit and economic development hub.

The LandTrust and DSI will join RowanWorks Economic Development Commission, Salisbury and Rowan County tourism authorities and Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, as well as Communities in Schools, in the two-story brick building.

Tourism bought the Gateway from the chamber earlier this year. The building becomes tax-exempt on Jan. 1, 2014, which lowered rent for all tenants.

The building partners are two weeks into a 45-day upstairs renovation that includes upfitting space for the LandTrust and DSI, as well as renovations to the EDC office suite and new shared space for copiers and supplies.

Summit Developers won the contract with a low bid that came in just under the $70,000 budget, said James Meacham, tourism executive director.

The LandTrust and DSI should move in by August. All tenants will pay $6.50 per square foot, Meacham said, bringing rent for the chamber and EDC to $10,000 a year, down from $30,000.

DSI, which has not been paying rent at the city-owned Plaza, will pay about $5,000 a year to the tourism authority. DSI had been paying $7,500 a year in rent to the city, although Salisbury waived the rent this year. DSI manages the Plaza for the city.

The city can charge a higher lease rate to a for-profit business in the Plaza.

The LandTrust will pay about $7,800 a year, Meacham said. The rent includes all utilities and access to shared conference and board rooms, as well as a kitchen, LandTrust Executive Director Jason Walser said.

“Historic Salisbury Foundation has been a wonderful landlord, and we’ve enjoyed that space tremendously,” Walser said.

The LandTrust will save about $8,000 a year with the move, he said. Utilities and janitorial service are included in the new rent, which is about half of what the group is currently paying, he said.

By moving to the Gateway, the LandTrust will work closely with tourism on a plan to attract more people to outdoor adventures in and around Rowan County like canoe trips, Walser said.

Meacham said when upstairs renovations are complete, the building partners will tackle downstairs renovations. Plans call for installing a digital visitors center with interactive touch screens, opening up the lobby and staffing it with a shared receptionist who will support all organizations in the building.

Total renovations are expected to cost less than $150,000, with tourism and the chamber each pitching in $70,000 and the LandTrust paying $10,000, Meacham said.

Greg Edds, past chamber chairman, suggested the change in Gateway ownership as a way to save money. City and county property taxes were about $31,000 a year when the chamber owned the building.

The $2.6 million Gateway is paid off, thanks to fund drives and large contributions from the city of Salisbury and Rowan County more than a decade ago that raised nearly $3.8 million for construction of the facility and other programs.

If the tourism authority ever folds, ownership of the building reverts back to the chamber. Because tourism can’t take on debt, the organization can never use the building as collateral.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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