Renovations at Gateway nearly complete, groups working better together

SALISBURY — Renovations at the Gateway Building are nearly complete, and leaders of organizations sharing the downtown facility say collaboration has improved.

“The collaboration between partners is something you can’t put a price tag on,” said James Meacham, executive director for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The LandTrust for Central North Carolina and Downtown Salisbury Inc. have joined RowanWorks Economic Development Commission, the Salisbury and Rowan County tourism authorities and Rowan County Chamber of Commerce in the two-story brick building at 204 E. Innes St.

They are renovating the 12-year-old building to create a nonprofit and economic development hub and to better use and share space. They also are co-hiring a receptionist who will work in the first floor lobby to welcome and direct visitors.

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

The second floor renovations are done, and first floor work should be complete in a few weeks, Meacham said. Workers are rerouting telecommunications throughout the building, and all organizations will share computer servers.

They also will share Internet service, a phone system and large office equipment like copiers to cut costs.

Downstairs, visitors will find a more open floorplan with touchscreen tourism kiosks, as well as human help, Meacham said.

While the EDC and tourism already had a close relationship, collaboration with the chamber has “increased exponentially” with the arrival of new chamber President Elaine Spalding, said Robert Van Geons, EDC executive director.

“We actually had a holiday luncheon together,” Spalding joked at Wednesday’s EDC board meeting.

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. Summit Developers won the contract with a low bid that came in just under the $70,000 budget.

All tenants will pay $6.50 per square foot, bringing rent for the chamber and EDC to $10,000 a year, down from $30,000.

Downtown Salisbury will pay about $5,000 a year to the tourism authority. The LandTrust will pay about $7,800 a year.

When the Gateway was still on the tax books, the building generated about $31,000 a year in city and county property taxes.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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