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Pink granite service station will be moved to make room for new mixed-use development

SALISBURY — It’s not often that people on both sides of a contentious issue end up coming together, Councilman Brian Miller said at the Salisbury City Council meeting Tuesday night.

He was talking about the pink granite service station at 201 E. Innes St., a contributing historic property downtown that has been a candidate for demolition since September 2016.

The Historic Preservation Commission voted that month to delay the demolition of the building for one year — the maximum amount of time that a demolition can be delayed by the commission.

The one-year delay is intended to give time for stakeholders to consider every preservation option possible.

When the request to demolish the property first came up last year, the Historic Salisbury Foundation and influential historic preservation advocates lobbied strongly to preserve the building.

Architect Pete Bogle of The Bogle Firm wanted to demolish the station so that a mixed-use development could be constructed.

On Tuesday night, the City Council had to decide whether to issue a demolition permit for the building.

The granite service station has been vacant for at least 10 years, according to Bogle.

There were four questions that the historic foundation wanted to address with Bogle, all of which were some form of the question, “Can the building be preserved?”

Bogle said, in every case, it makes more sense for the service station to be demolished and the property repurposed.

Over the course of the year, the foundation and Bogle cooperated and compromised until an agreement was made that both parties could live with.

“This has become a very community-based development,” Bogle said.

Bogle’s client, Healthcare Management Consultants, needs a bigger space than its current location on Statesville Boulevard. Bogle said the current building — a former automobile service station — could not accommodate their needs.

Instead, Bogle designed an 11,600-square-foot, two-story building that will include enough space for Healthcare Management in addition to four two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments on the top floor.

Bogle said Healthcare Management also has found a partner agency that is willing to renovate a neighboring space, meaning that 9,500 more square feet would be available for reuse.

City Planner Kyle Harris said that when the city’s planning staff went to examine the building last year, it did not appear to be in an imminent state of disrepair that would make it hazardous.

Therefore, the only reason that the City Council would choose to demolish the building would be because it agrees with the vision of Bogle to revitalize the space.

Historic Salisbury Foundation Executive Director Karen Hobson said that, ideally, she would like to see the service station restored in its current location.

“But none of us live in an ideal world,” Hobson said.

She said that because Bogle agreed to dismantle and rebuild the structure at 219 E. Innes St., she thinks the proposal is a good compromise.

“Historic Salisbury Foundation supports this alternative. It saves the historic portion of the pink granite service station and returns it to commercial use,” Hobson said.

Foundation founder Ed Clement opposed the demolition outright when it came up last year, saying that the reuse of the building’s materials would not count as historic preservation.

But at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, he simply emphasized the importance of having the discussion about historic preservation in the forefront of public conversation.

“(In) 2007, a visionary council got this law passed in Raleigh and then the ordinance was accepted. To me, it’s important because the public’s been cut out of the demolition process. This ordinance brings the public into the process,” Clement said.

After listening to a presentation by Harris, comments from Bogle and a public hearing — during which six people spoke in favor of Bogle’s proposal — the City Council voted unanimously to issue a demolition permit so that Bogle’s plan could progress.

Bogle did not say when the pink service station will be demolished or when construction of the new buildings will begin.

Other items on the agenda Tuesday included:

• The council voted unanimously to rezone a six-acre lot on Cedar Springs Road so that Fire Station 6 can be constructed.

Mayor Karen Alexander said she had received a number of letters from neighbors of the proposed station that said how excited they are for the station and asking her to “please vote yes.”

No one spoke for or against the plan during a public hearing.

City Manager Lane Bailey said the city is hoping to break ground on the project before June 30.

• Salisbury Parks and Recreation Director Nick Aceves made a presentation about a new teen center at Miller Recreation Center.

Aceves said that a $50,000 grant from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation would go toward new materials and staff members for the teen program.

Those materials will include I.D. cards that will allow kids in the program to ride Salisbury city buses for free.

Robertson Foundation Executive Director Jason Walser was present during Aceves’ presentation. He said the foundation is “thrilled with this.”

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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