Business incubator proposed at West End Plaza

Published 12:10 am Sunday, August 6, 2017

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — County commissioners on Monday will hear a redevelopment plan for West End that would involve a business incubator and other yet-to-be-named projects at the former mall.

During their 3 p.m. meeting, commissioners will hear a presentation from consulting firm e2Advisors, based in South Carolina. Commissioners’ meeting will be on the second floor of the county administration building 130 West Innes St.

E2Advisors worked with Catawba College’s business school in developing the Center for Entrepreneurship and Experiential Development at the Ketner School of Business, according to the firm’s website.

Now, the South Carolina company will present an idea called the IDEA Venture Lab, which will include a business incubator, co-working space, offices, a coffee shop and a space for small companies to create prototypes of products, said Rowan County Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds.

Edds, who requested the presentation be placed on Monday’s agenda, said the project included in e2Advisors presentation would require “a large amount of space” at the West End Plaza.

He said there are other plans for West End Plaza that he didn’t want to discuss yet. On Monday, Edds said county commissioners will be asked whether to vote to proceed with the project.

In 2013, Rowan County commissioners purchased the Salisbury Mall for $3.45 million. The stated reason for buying the facility was providing office space for county departments. So far, two county departments have moved into West End Plaza — the Board of Elections and Veterans Services. Meanwhile, private companies still lease space at the building.

Edds said the business incubator idea would be a “great use” of the former mall. It could lead to the creation of new, small businesses and boost the local economy, he said. He said West End Plaza with the business incubator and other, yet-to-be-named projects could become an asset for Salisbury and Rowan County.

In other business on Monday’s agenda:

• Commissioners will discuss the rate schedule for a county-owned water line planned for the Dukeville area.

The water line would service economic development sites and houses near Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. State law requires the line be completed in October 2018.

Monday’s agenda documents show the minimum monthly bill would be $68.50, which provides up to 5,000 gallons per month. Though the line would be owned by Rowan County, the minimum rate would increase in conjunction with increases adopted by the city of Salisbury.

After the initial 5,000 gallons, water consumers would be billed $6.35 cents for every additional 1,000 gallons. That’s more than the rate charged by Salisbury-Rowan Utilities, and it would increase in conjunction with rate hikes by Salisbury, according to Monday’s agenda documents.

• Commissioners will consider whether to proceed with the renovation of the former J.C. Penney’s space at West End Plaza, which is often rented for events.

Specifically, commissioners will consider whether to approve a $117,000 agreement with ADW Architects, who would oversee the renovations. The agreement includes the following services: schematic design, design development, construction documents, contractor pricing and construction administration.

Additional services could be provided by ADW Architects, but those are not included in the $117,000 agreement.

Specific renovations for which commissioners agreed to seek prices for in July included adding bathrooms, flooring, electrical upgrades and a portable audio/visual system.

• Commissioners are scheduled to approve the purchase of 14 vehicles for the sheriff’s office at a total cost of $432,362.

The vehicle purchase appears on commissioners’ consent agenda — used for items without opposition.

• Commissioners will receive a presentation from the Rowan County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

• Commissioners will consider whether to let a newly formed group known as “Growing Rowan” hold meetings in a vacant space across from Veterans Services in the West End Plaza.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.