Proposed apartments draw West Square concerns

Published 12:10 am Friday, June 21, 2024

SALISBURY — On Tuesday, a development representative met at 510 South Main Street with several neighbors from the adjacent community to discuss the prospect of putting a 55+ apartment complex at the site.

The 1.81-acre lot, owned by Pinnacle Ridge, LLC, has a building that currently houses Sidekick Karate of Salisbury and previously was the site of Salisbury Power Equipment.

Wynnefield Properties plans to develop it into a complex with approximately 60 units, varying from one bedroom to two bedroom, which would be for residents 55 years and older. A similar project has already been approved on the other side of South Main Street, where a car dealership previously operated.

At the meeting, Davis Ray of Wynnefield Properties spoke with residents from the nearby West Square neighborhood.

“We want to hear these things so we can go back and huddle up and come in and be a good neighbor,” Ray said.

Later in the meeting, he said, “We don’t want to come in as a square peg in a round-hole neighborhood.”

At present, nothing has been approved, but the developer’s prospective pitch to the Salisbury Planning Board will be to rezone the site from corridor mixed use to downtown mixed-use.

As described in the Salisbury Land Development Ordinance (LDO), a corridor mixed-use is designed “to facilitate convenient access, minimize traffic congestion and reduce the visual impact of auto-oriented uses along the city’s older major thoroughfares.”

It goes on to say that developments in this district “should be traditionally detailed and encourage pedestrian use through connections to adjacent neighborhoods and the construction of vertically mixed-use buildings.”

The new zoning being requested for the space is downtown mixed-use, described in the LDO as designed for the traditional downtown area, in that “individual buildings are encouraged to be multi-story with uses mixed vertically, street-level commercial and upper-level office and residential.”

Higher densities of residential development are encouraged.

“It is the purpose of these regulations to encourage vitality by excluding certain activities which have a negative effect on the public realm through auto-dominated or non-pedestrian oriented design or uses,” the LDO said.

During the meeting on Tuesday, Ray explained a little about how the apartments would work. There would be coded entries for residents, and each apartment would be accessed from an interior corridor, with storage space available.

According to Ray, the complex utilizes tax credits to keep rental costs below market. He also said that his company would continue to own the property for years to come.

“In my 13 years of being in this role, we have sold two properties,” Ray said. “It’s not something we do. We keep everything and manage it ourselves.”

Several of the concerns voiced by West Square neighbors included the increased traffic volume on already overcrowded roads. Current plans have an ingress-egress that empties onto South Church Street.

Other concerns involved privacy, specifically with a three or four-story apartment building, which would be built next to houses of traditional heights.

Two people in attendance, who own the property called Bonaparte Castle in that same area of South Main Street, said they were “excited about the prospect of connecting this corridor” to the rest of downtown Salisbury.

The next step for the project will be to go before the Salisbury Planning Board. Those meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. in city council chambers, 217 South Main Street, Salisbury.