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Start-up hub using school system’s mobile units receives City Council approval

SALISBURY — Grace Village, a hub for startup businesses to be located at East 11th and North Long streets, was approved by the Salisbury City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

Grace Village was rezoned from heavy industrial to corridor mixed-use and the three parcels on the property were combined. The downzoning would allow for retail use and other mixed use. The downzoning was previously recommended unanimously by the Salisbury Planning Board in April.

Zoning Administrator Teresa Barringer said the downzoning was deemed appropriate because it was consistent with the neighborhood.

Owned by Frances McCray, Grace Village will reuse modular units from schools to turn into a home for small businesses. A former educator, McCray already has obtained modular units no longer in use.

Barringer pointed out the rezoning would restrict properties from possibly expanding because of setback rules.

Council member Karen Alexander, who recused herself from the vote, spoke on behalf of McCray as the architect.

Grace Village would allow for businesses to have place to get their start, Alexander said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity and she’s being able to repurpose modular units that are coming from the school system. As they remove these modular units, she’s able to buy these for a reasonable cost,” Alexander said. “Therefore, that’s how she can provide a place for a young entrepreneur at reasonable rent rate.”

Sh’Myra Moore, who has been assisting McCray with legal aspects of Grace Village, spoke about McCray’s goals.

“Her vision for Grace Village is to provide future business owners opportunity to develop and grow their businesses in Salisbury,” Moore said. “Ms. McCray wants to provide responsible leasing space for owners. She has said rent will not be a dollar but it will be affordable.”

Moore continued, saying Grace Village also would support what McCray calls “second time around,” or people with criminal records.

Dottie Hoy spoke during the public hearing about her excitement related to Grace Village. Hoy said she thinks it’s a creative idea to encourage small businesses.

Mayor Al Heggins asked for Alexander to explain her relationship to the project and whether she would receive any benefit to its passing.

Alexander said McCray is her client and that she will be paid regardless for her services if the proposal had passed or not.

Council member Brian Miller asked about the trash pickup. Alexander said Grace Village’s trash containers would roll out to 11th Street.

An additional driveway was added to the project for emergency services.

Council member Tamara Sheffield asked Alexander if trees in need of removal would be replanted. Alexander said trees had to be removed to comply with N.C. Department of Transportation requirements, but the project will add landscaping as mobile units are put in.

The site currently has units leased to an insurance office and a beauty salon. Other units are planned to be added to the site, too.

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