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Hemann to do presentation at national conference

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Scheduled to speak Tuesday to as many as 1,200 downtown developers, Randy Hemann will discuss how preservation of historic downtown buildings has boosted Salisbury’s economy.
Hemann, executive director for Downtown Salisbury Inc., is a featured speaker at the 2012 Main Streets Conference in Baltimore. The National Trust for Historic Preservation invited him to present during Tuesday’s general session, “Preservation as an Economic Engine: Just the Facts,” which is free and open to all conference attendees. Hemann’s 30-minute presentation is expected to start around 9 a.m. and will stream live at http://www.preservationnation.org/main-street/training/conference/2012baltimore/virtual-attendee/ .
National Trust leaders spotted Hemann’s presentation at a preservation conference in Buffalo last year and invited him to address the Main Streets Conference.
His session is billed as a study of success stories where economic developers have used historic preservation to increase tax base and “impress decision-makers back home.”
“We know that restoring the historic fabric and character of our built environment can create jobs and stimulate economic vitality in communities,” according to the conference website. “But where are the research and success stories to make our case to government officials and the disbelieving public?
“Hear from national experts and local practitioners as they present case studies that have the facts to back up their success stories.”
One of three speakers during the session, Hemann said his invitation is a testament to the work and the dedication of the Downtown Salisbury Inc. Board of Directors, city leaders and staff and others who work to improve the downtown.
“It’s an honor for Salisbury to be recognized amongst peers nationwide,” Hemann said.
As City Council considers ways to increase economic development efforts, “I hope they will recognize how our partnership using the Main Street Model has created investment, jobs and a vitality that can be expanded to other areas of the city,” Hemann said. Heman said he will show slides and offer details of specific preservation projects, including the Norvell Theater, Kluttz Drug Store, Innes Street Drug and F&M Financial Center.
He also will offer a comparison of property values. The tax base in Salisbury’s downtown area, defined as the Municipal Service District, has increased 169 percent since 1989.
Salisbury is ranked third in the state for retail sales per capita, behind Asheville and Wilmington. More than $117 million has been invested downtown since 1980, with net gains of more than 1,000 jobs and 13 businesses, Hemann said.
Downtown is the more valueable land in Salisbury. Hemann will offer these figures:
• $122,000 per acre for a suburban house.
• $404,000 per acre for a lake house.
• $580,000 per acre for a strip shopping center
• $1,008,000 per acre for a historic house
• $1,022,000 per acre for downtown.
“Randy uses a simple and effective methodology for Main Street organizations to communicate the economic development value of historic preservation,” said Erica Stewart, manager with public affairs at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We think everyone can learn from the methodology Randy uses.” Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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