Despite pandemic, downtown Salisbury sees millions in new investment, business growth, new apartments

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 19, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Despite a challenging year marred by a pandemic, downtown Salisbury saw more than $10 million in public and private investment in addition to a net increase of 11 businesses in the previous year.

Downtown Salisbury Inc’s 2020-21 annual report was presented to council members this week and outlined economic activity the area experienced, including investments, building repairs, new businesses and new jobs. The nonprofit organization is part of a public-private collaboration with the Main Street Program and works to enhance the overall appearance and economic vitality of the downtown area. DSI is funded through a property tax on the municipal services district in downtown.

The 2020-21 report shows a total public investment of $2.2 million and nearly $8 million in private investment. Among the private investments are improvements or openings at Umami Downtown, the French Nest and Skinny Wheel Bike Shop.

Downtown saw a net increase of 39 full-time jobs, a net increase of 34 part-time jobs and 162 additional residential units. There was also a net increase of 11 businesses, with 21 new businesses created and 10 lost. Additionally, seven restaurants expanded to other locations, including Mean Mug in Charlotte, Oxford + Lee in Kannapolis, Go Burrito in Burlington and 3 Jem’s Boutique in Kannapolis.

Among the new businesses in downtown are Carpe Vinum 121, Understanding Your Dog, SoFul Yoga and Wellness, Heart of Salisbury, Mother Earth Greek Paraphernalia and Barnhardt Jewelers, which moved from its Spencer location.

Among the businesses lost are Palermo’s, Salon Raaa, Bruce’s Tuxedo, King Tut’s Cafe and Hookah Lounge and Rowan County Local ReEntry Council.

Overall, there were 27 interior up-fits and improvements to businesses such as SoFul Yoga and Wellness, Skinny Wheels Bike Shop, Fit for a Queen, Koco Java, The Fish Bowl, Barnhardt Jewelers and the Lofts on Innes. Some other businesses made facade improvements, including Pottery 101, Old Sarum Gallery, Stitchin’ Post Gifts and Spanky’s Deli and Homemade Ice Cream.

Some downtown projects are in the pipeline, including a cooperative market at the old Wells Fargo building, which was the result of DSI forming a subcommittee to evaluate how the first floor of the building could be used, DSI Board Chair Gianni Moscardini said. Tentatively named Bell Tower Market, plans include filling the space with a butcher shop, seafood store, convenience shop, small grocery store, cold-cut deli and a wine and beer store. Moscardini anticipates it will be complete by the end of next year.

Additionally, in September, the Empire Hotel Redevelopment Task Force selected Charlotte-based developer Brett Krueger to revitalize the space with a luxury boutique hotel feel. Plans at this time include the construction of around 40 apartments in the hotel, ranging from one to three bedrooms. The plan would also include a full-service spa, gym and health club in addition to 7,000 square feet of retail space and 6,000 square feet for a restaurant and historic hotel bar.

Krueger also intends to have retail space that supports and directly benefits artists and artistic growth. He wants to restore more than 20 hotel rooms in the hotel as well as the ballroom for event space.

Moscardini said stakeholders are working on ideas to tackle a parking problem he anticipates for the future as downtown continues to develop further.

DSI Interim Director Latoya Price said committees within DSI are busy working toward a variety of goals, including establishing a downtown building inventory database, adding downtown Wi-Fi, improving ways of marketing downtown and communicating with stakeholders, the downtown master plan and a public consumption ordinance.

Price assumed the interim director role formerly held by Larissa Harper, who resigned in 2020. Price will re-assume a previous role with DSI later this month when the newly hired executive director Sada Stewart Troutman begins. Stewart Troutman is the outgoing executive director of the Historic Salisbury Foundation.

Despite the pandemic, the city was still able to host some modified events, including annual Wine About Winter — this year in flip flops and tank tops. The city also hosted Busker’s Bash and Halloween Fun Fest in October, along with a Juneteenth celebration and the annual OctoberTour. Events scheduled for the rest of the year include Holiday Night Out, Small Business Saturday and fire truck rides with Santa and the Grinch.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.