SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) -
The highly anticipated project to renovate the Empire Hotel in downtown Salisbury won approval from a state commission, according to city leaders.
The North Carolina Local Government Commission voted to approve the project during its meeting on Tuesday.
In 2016, Black Point Investments, LLC, signed a purchase and sale agreement with plans to develop the property into market-rate apartments. Initial plans also provide for the development of retail storefronts along South Main St., including the retail space in the former Montgomery Ward main floor, mezzanine and basement.
Combined, the project will allow for approximately 29,000 square feet of retail space.
Once completed, the Empire Hotel initiative is expected to bring in an estimated $118,000 per year in revenue, which includes sales and property taxes and other general fund revenue.
In addition, Downtown Salisbury Inc. may receive nearly $100,000 following the final sale of the property, as well as save $16,000 per year in its building maintenance costs.
According to city officials, the master lease funding proposal outlines the City's possible obligation if the Empire Hotel commercial tenant defaults on or cannot cover in full the lease amount.
The obligation cost could total $12 per square feet, per year for 13,319 square feet of commercial space equaling $159,828 per year for 10 years.
The potential obligation cost will be shared with Downtown Salisbury, Inc. using funds from existing incentive grant programs.
The Empire Hotel was built in 1855 by local attorney Nathaniel Boyden, opening to the public three years later as a "first class hotel" on the heels of the railroad's arrival in Salisbury. Then known as the Boyden House, the property also housed permanent residents throughout its 100-year operating history.
After years of substantial renovations and management turnover, the hotel finally closed its doors in 1963.
DSI purchased the hotel in 2007 from the Ragsdale family of Jamestown, N.C., with the intention of stabilizing and developing the property.