Preservation commission OKs new school central office
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The city’s Historic Preservation Commission approved plans for the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s downtown central office building Thursday.
Details ranging from the color and texture of brick that will be used to the design of the light fixtures that will line the sides of the facility facing South Main and Horah streets were discussed.
“I think, at least for me, part of the reason why I was being picky or detail-oriented is because small details can be big details,” Jon Planovsky said. “I didn’t doubt this sort of project, coming from all the entities involved, did not meet the guidelines.”
Architect Bill Burgin gave a presentation for the future building at 319 S. Main St., outlining the base building of 49,000 square feet and two alternates.
The first alternate includes 13,999 square feet of additional space for $867,938. The base building will not have enough space for the district’s exceptional children’s department, but it stays within the $6 million budget.
Another alternate includes topping the building with a “Salisbury green” fiberglass dome that will cost about $120,000 to build and install, a purely aesthetic feature several commission members were particularly fond of.
“I like the dome,” Tony Hoty said. “It’s a good looking dome.”
Planovsky said he hopes the district can find the additional funds to add the dome.
“I think the dome really completes the building and makes it absolutely beautiful,” he said.
Salisbury resident Geof Wilson spoke during the public hearing portion.
“I like the dome, I think it adds a lot of character,” he said.
Wilson asked Burgin to consider adding parking for bicycles.
The historic commission approved all three plans.
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The commission also approved the demolition of the unoccupied service station at 319 S. Main St. to construct the central office.
Burgin said construction won’t begin for several months after the demolition occurs, but it’s important to go ahead and take steps to get the process under way.
“The real motive for us is to not be surprised when we started construction on the $6 million building,” he said.
Burgin said he has “evidence and documentation” that the fuel tanks have been taken up.
But phase one of the environmental report found two orphan tanks, underground tanks that are likely empty but could contain some fuel, Burgin said.
“My suspicion is we have no issues at all, but we just don’t know and we won’t know until we move the asphalt,” Burgin said.
Burgin agreed to Planovsky’s request to record the building photographically and find out if there is anything historic to salvage because the building is likely at least 50 years old.
“It’s weird that we’re thinking things in our lifetime are now considered historic to us,” he said. “I do think it’s important to have a record of the building.”
The demolition will now go before City Council for approval.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.