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Lee Street development hinges on grant

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — With The Perfect Smoke opening next month on South Lee Street, Downtown Salisbury Inc. now has plans for the old house next door.
Darren Moody said his cigar shop at 213 S. Lee St. will open at the end of June. The city last year won a $41,000 grant from the state to help pay for rehabilitation of the house near the Norvell Theater, behind City Hall.
City Council on Tuesday agreed to apply for another Main Street Solutions grant from the state, a $75,000 award that would help move a developer into the house at 209 S. Lee St.
Allen Terry said he wants to open a restaurant in the house. He ran the successful Emma’s Carolina Cuisine in Concord until last year.
Terry said he has made an offer on the property but the deal hinges on the city winning the grant.
The Salisbury Community Development Corp. owns the house. The grant would be used as an incentive for Terry’s investment and job creation with the restaurant.
The grant requires no city match. The restaurant would create three jobs, Mark Lewis, vice president of Downtown Salisbury Inc., told City Council.
Last year, downtown saw 10 businesses open and nine close. Private investment totaled $6 million, and public investment came to $35,000, Lewis said.
Key projects included the Hardiman Building, Bangkok Downtown and the First United Methodist Church expansion. Projects under construction are Go Burrito in the old Carousel Cafe, Perfect Smoke and improvements to the South Lee Street parking lot.
Big projects on the horizon include the Rowan-Salisbury School System central office, approved for the 300 block of South Main Street, and selling the Empire Hotel for redevelopment of almost an entire city block on South Main Street. Downtown Salisbury hopes to find a developer in the coming year.
Downtown Salisbury also hopes to finally establish left turns at the Square, Lewis said.
“It is very important for this community,” he said.

In other action
Also Tuesday, City Council:
• Congratulated City Engineer Dan Mikkelson for receiving the American Public Works Association national Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year Award. Since 1960, fewer than 600 people in North America have received the award.
Mikkelson urged high school students good at science and math to consider a career in engineering, which he called “an honorable and challenging profession.”
“If you are a person who wants to give back to the community, I urge you to consider working for local government,” he said.
• Approved a Justice Assistance Grant for the Salisbury Police Department and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office for $38,332. Police will receive $24,221 to convert a special response van to be used as command post for large events, 10 chemical munitions kits, night vision goggles, gas masks and body cameras officers wear on their uniform to record interaction with the public.
• Agreed to close East Bank Street on Saturday mornings to accommodate the growing Salisbury Farmers Market.
The market has turned away vendors due to lack of space. Closing the 100 block of East Bank from 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. will allow more vendors at the market. The street will be closed Saturdays starting this weekend through Sept. 29.
• Also closed the following streets: 100 and 200 blocks of White Oak Drive from 1 to 3 p.m. May 26 and 1 to 6 p.m. May 27 for the Westcliffe Civic Association Pig Picking; the 100 block of South Church Street and 200 block of West Fisher Street from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 2 for Pops at the Post; the 100 block of East Fisher Street from 6 to 11 p.m. on June 7, July 5, Aug. 9 and Sept 6 for Brick Street Live.
• Appointed Dianne Scott to the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Randy Reamer to the Planning Board.
• Agreed to a 90-day evaluation period to test removing the traffic signals at two intersections — North Fulton and West Liberty streets and North Lee and East Kerr streets.
City residents have requested removing the signals. City Traffic Engineer Wendy Brindle said the intersections do not carry enough traffic to warrant signals.
Instead, the city will install four-way stop signs at North Lee and East Kerr streets. Kerr carries three times more traffic than Lee, Brindle said.
At North Fulton and West Liberty streets, the city will let traffic on Fulton continue unimpeded and install two-way stop signs on Liberty. Fulton carries about 5,000 cars per day, while Liberty carries about 1,000, Brindle said.
The city will cover the signals, not remove them, during the trial period.
• Learned the city will install advance street name signs along Jake Alexander Boulevard to let motorists know what intersections are coming up.
The city had to remove the overhead street name signs at the intersections where the N.C. Department of Transportation had upgraded the traffic signals. Finer gauge wire used to power new LED traffic signals could not hold the overhead street signs.
• Agreed to amend the Hill Street tower site lease agreement by assigning the city’s lease with Duke Power to Pinnacle Towers. Pinnacle maintains the telecommunications tower in Granite Quarry and pays the city half of the rent generated by the tower.
The city will receive about $120,000 annually from tower proceeds, roughly $40,000 less than when the city had leases with both Duke and Pinnacle.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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