Historic Salisbury Foundation to hear proposals for potential Salisbury Station sale

Published 12:08 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

SALISBURY — During their annual goal setting retreat, members of the Historic Salisbury Foundation voted to establish a request for proposals to get bids for purchasing the Salisbury Railway Passenger Station.

This process will allow the foundation to figure out if they will accept an offer to sell the property or to “continue on as we have been for the last 35 years,” according to foundation president Michael Young.

“It was never the intention of the foundation to keep the station in perpetuity. We always thought that it would probably wind up either in the city’s hands or maybe even a private developer, but it was not always going to be a foundation property,” Young said.

Young says selling the station has been one of the goals for the foundation’s board over the past six years. Recently, many organizations, including the city of Salisbury, have asked about the property.

“This is the first time that anything has become interesting,” Young said.

The building needs major improvements, including a roof over the concourse, parking lot repairs and sprinkler system repairs, all totaling $1.2 million in deferred maintenance. In order for construction to take place, the foundation will either do a capital campaign to raise funds or sell the building outright.

Foundation members decided that before considering a capital campaign to make the repairs, they would go through the RFP process first to see if they receive multiple bids.

“We have a fiduciary responsibility as a board to entertain all options and we felt like instead of just hanging a ‘for sale’ sign out on the building, we should probably do it through the RFP process, which would allow us to better control who might wind up with the property,” Young said.

Developing an objective evaluation is “tricky” because the kinds of proposals are so different that it’s hard to figure out what would be best.

“We’re not just looking at the highest price, we’re looking at who’s going to be the best steward of the project. We can actually take less for the property as long as it was maintained properly,” Young said. “We’ll want to ensure that the architectural fabric of the inside, the outside and the grounds remain intact.”

A committee is currently working on drafting the RFP and should be done by the end of the month. The foundation’s board of trustees will then review and comment on the RFP before finalizing it.

“We’re approaching this thing with an open mind. We expect everybody else to have an open mind, in that if you hear of anything that the foundation has said and done regarding the selling the station, it’s news to us because we have not received any proposals yet. We haven’t made any decisions,” Young said.

The RFP will make sure the property’s deed restrictions and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are being met. Since the station has never been for sale before, the deed restrictions will need to be crafted along with the RFP.