City will have first option on former Grimes Mill property

SALISBURY — The city will have the right of first negotiation on the property where Grimes Mill once stood.

When City Council meets at 4 today, members are scheduled to go into closed session to consider an offer from Historic Salisbury Foundation to purchase roughly two acres of land at the corner of West Franklin and North Church streets.

The foundation is asking $247,000 for four parcels and selling them as one unit, including the roughly one-acre site of the former mill and three smaller lots across Church Street where houses once stood. All the property is now vacant.

“The cleanup has been completed, and we just wanted to offer the city the first option on the property, since they have the adjoining parcels,” foundation Executive Director Brian Davis said. “We wanted to be good neighbors.”

Other than the foundation’s property, the city owns nearly the entire block and nearby property, where the public works divisions are based.

City Manager Doug Paris said it makes sense for the city to consider the property.

The 117-year-old roller mill was destroyed by a five-alarm fire Jan. 16. Since then, foundation volunteers cleared the site of thousands of bricks from the mill, selling them to help offset the cost of cleaning the site.

Volunteers recovered and recycled 75 percent of the materials that remained after the fire, Davis said. Some of the heavy timber that wasn’t destroyed was remilled and used in the Henderson Law Office on West Church Street and the Blackmer House on South Fulton Street for flooring and sills.

With the brick sale and proceeds from metal recycling, volunteers were able to raise nearly $23,000 for the $60,000 Grimes Mill cleanup.

The balance came from foundation funds because the mill was not insured. Selling the property will recoup the balance of the cleanup costs, Davis said.

If the city declines to buy the land, the foundation will list the property for sale to the general public.

“The site served the foundation well, and we did all we could to save what we could,” Davis said. “We realized with the loss of the mill, for us as stewards it’s best to pass it along to someone else who could use the property.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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