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County should buy mall, lease to schools

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from a lengthy proposal submitted by a local citizen to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education.

By Georgi Goss
PROPOSAL for the county to buy the Salisbury Mall and sell part of it to Rowan-Salisbury Schools for central offices:
STEP 1: The county borrows $6 million, as planned, and … purchases the mall from Igal Namdar, the current owner, for $2.5 million to $3 million. Current retail stores and restaurants are encouraged to stay. This will be a mixed-use development for the foreseeable future. Until further notice, current mall employees and manager continue supervision and maintenance of the mall. … Money for the management company, which would pay the mall employees’ salaries and benefits, would come from a percentage of the rental proceeds. …
STEP 2: The county constructs $500,000 worth of solar panel arrays in the parking lot, elevating them above the parking spaces. This would provide shade for the cars and protection from rain, snow and ice for drivers as they get in and out of their vehicles. Gutters put in place along the lower edge of the slanted and elevated solar panel racks that cover the parking spaces could be used to guide water into economical containers at the far end of the rows, alleviating current concerns regarding run-off in large parking lots and providing irrigation for planters installed at the end of the parking rows.
… (T)hese solar panels would provide enough energy to supply the requirements of the mall. Excess solar energy produced would also provide income from Duke Energy/Progress Energy every single month for the next 25 years or so….
STEP 3: The School Board/RSS system occupies the spaces which once contained Goody’s (30,000 square feet), Tuesday Morning (18,000 sq ft), the Hallmark store, GameWorks, Little Rascals and Salem Open — all clustered in one area of the mall and totaling 60,000 square feet, which is the amount of space the school board once said it needed for the central office. After the county purchases the mall and installs elevated solar panels over the parking areas, it would have an investment of $3-3.5 million in the facilities. … The School Board/RSS system could pay the county back $700,000 for this 60,000 square feet of space. It would pay this by using the same method of payment now proposed to pay for the downtown central office.
The county would then lend the RSS Board $2.5 million to use for renovations, which would also be re-paid from the same source of money now proposed to be used for a $6.3 million building downtown. This means the central administrative offices for RSS would cost $700,000 plus $2.5 million, a total of $3.2 million, instead of $6.3 million, AND the offices would have the full 60,000 square feet they said they needed in order to centralize operations.

Georgi Agner Goss is founder of Salisbury Academy.

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