Nonprofit will demolish, redevelop Eaman Park Apartments in Salisbury

Published 4:55 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Community Development Corporation will demolish Eaman Park Apartments and redevelop the 3.95-acre property into a residential community.

Located near Salisbury High School at the intersection of Lincolnton and Wilson roads, Eaman Park contains about 40 residential units in several single-story, multi-family buildings. The buildings were constructed in 1951.

“The Eaman Park plan is an opportunity for us to work with our partners to truly be a catalyst for the transformation of the area around Salisbury High School, and to stitch back together the fabric of the neighborhood with an eye toward architectural and urban design excellence,” urban planner Kyle Harris said in a news release.

The Salisbury CDC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing affordable housing, encouraging stable communities and improving home ownership opportunities for low and moderate income families. In the previous three years, the organization has rehabilitated more than 40 homes in the West End community.

“I’m inspired by what I have seen in the West End,” Mae Carroll, vice president of the Salisbury CDC Board of Directors, said in a news release. “The Eaman Park plan is an opportunity for us to build on that momentum and continue building up Salisbury’s neighborhoods.”

The announcement from the Salisbury CDC comes months after residents of Eaman Park were instructed to vacate their homes with little notice. Tenants received letters from former property owner Mike Sharpe in August telling them to move by Sept. 6 or face eviction. In the letter, Sharpe said he decided to sell the property. The buildings would be demolished to make way for affordable housing.

Frustrated by only having a month’s notice, tenants banded together to assess options and ask for more time. Several said they were having a difficult time finding a place to move due to a limited supply of affordable housing in the Salisbury market.

“We just need more time,” Eaman Park resident Linda Persinger told the Post in August.

Residents received more time. In September, Sharpe told residents they could stay until Jan. 31. He also provided four months of rent relief. The change in course came after the Salisbury CDC spoke with Sharpe about a better plan to help residents find new housing.

“When we heard that, we said there is no way we could partake in anything that could displace residents,” said Chanaka Yatawara, Salisbury CDC executive director.

Yatawara said the Salisbury CDC became interested in redeveloping Eaman Park several years ago.

“There were several community leaders who came to us and asked how can we help? That’s how it started,” Yatawara said. “It was not something we initiated in any sense. It was community leaders who came to us.”

The pandemic delayed redevelopment plans, but they’re moving forward now. Eaman Park has been vacated, and the Salisbury CDC is conducting an environmental assessment.

Yatawara said the organization considered renovating the residences, but it decided the buildings were too deteriorated to restore in a cost-effective manner.

The apartments will be removed to make room for a yet-to-be-determined type of residential development, Yatawara said. He said it’s premature to say whether the residences will be officially considered affordable housing.

He said the development will not be a high-rise apartment complex. It could be a mix of rental properties and owner-occupied homes.

“We want to get input from city staff, realtors, developers, the community leaders, just to see what would best fit there and what the need in the community is as well,” Yatawara said.

Open grass fields will take the place of Eaman Park while the Salisbury CDC charts its course. Yatawara said there is no timeline for when the area will be redeveloped.

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About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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