Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2014

SALISBURY — A popular downtown parking lot for church-goers and festival crowds will be blocked later this month, but the property owner may open allow use on Sunday mornings and during special events.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Thursday to allow the Maxwell Chambers Trust to block four driveways to the First Bank parking lot at the corner of West Innes and Church streets.
First Bank is closing the branch at 215 W. Innes St. at the end of the month and consolidating services at the other Salisbury location, 1525 Jake Alexander Blvd.
The trust, which owns the First Bank property and the remainder of that city block, asked for permission to install bollards and chains to block driveway entrances to the bank. Chris Bradshaw, who represented the trust during the commission meeting, said the trust is concerned about vandalism while the bank building is empty.
However, Bradshaw said he expected the trust to accommodate parking during specific times.
“We will be good neighbors to neighboring churches and to downtown,” Bradshaw said.
The trust does not have future plans for the bank building yet, Bradshaw said.
Two bollards and a chain will be permanently installed at each driveway until the trust finds a new tenant, he said. The chain can be removed to allow cars in when parking is allowed.
The bollards and chains will be painted white to make sure drivers who are accustomed to pulling into the parking lot can see them, said Andrew Pitner, chairman for the Historic Preservation Commission.
The trust and bank tried to renegotiate the lease, which expires at the end of the month, but could not come to an agreement.
Along with First Bank, the block owned by the Maxwell Chambers Trust also includes the building used by the former Wrenn House and a parking lot leased by the Salisbury Post. The Farmers Market uses the former Wrenn House parking lot.
First Bank has been responsible for upkeep of the bell tower and some surrounding property along West Innes and South Jackson streets.
A trust official told the Post in December that the trust and future tenant of the property will need to come up with a plan for restoring the bell tower, which closed about two years ago due to hazardous conditions.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.