Salisbury City Council approves five downtown incentive project grants

Town goes over budget for grants

SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - The City Council in Salisbury voted this week to go over budget in approving a request for five incentive grants for projects in the downtown, even though approval of all five projects means dipping into the fund balance for approximately $81,000.

“You can’t have an unhealthy downtown and have a healthy city, those do not work together," said Salisbury City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem David Post.

To that end, Post made the motion at a recent council meeting to fund incentive grants for five downtown projects, even though the money wasn’t there for the full amount.

“So the question is, what do you do when you have money allocated of $225,000 and you got $306,000 in requests?" Post added.

Council felt the projects were so worthwhile, they wanted to fund them anyway.

“I think that it’s rare that we would get five at one time that are outstanding projects," said council member Karen Alexander.

One of the projects involves the Meroney Theater. The more than 100-year-old building needs a new HVAC unit.

“One of the units is really starting to have some problems, so part of it is just operating the building and the maintenance of the building," said Reid Leonard, Resident Director of Piedmont Players Theater.

Supporters pointed out that the theater drives a lot of business downtown.

“One of the running jokes around here is that the restaurants make a whole lot more money on our shows than we make on our shows," Leonard added.

Along with the $43,000 grant for the Meroney, other projects include:

- $106,744 to Joshua and Debbie Barnhardt for the rehabilitation and residential project located at 112-114 E. Innes St., the future Lofts on Innes and relocated Barnhardt Jewelers from Spencer

- $100,000 to Todd Littleton for a historic rehabilitation and residential production project at 117 S. Lee St., the future Firehouse Lofts.

-$50,000 to Wivianny DeHaas, of Heart of Salisbury Yoga, to upfit the 120-A E. Innes St. location.

-$75,000 to Gianni Moscardini to renovate and expand Salty Caper Pizza at 115-117 S. Lee St.

Alexander pointed out that Debbie Barnhardt is moving an established business into Salisbury, and said that the grant would help greatly.

“When someone commits with kind of passion, it’s really important," Alexander added.

And for David Post, whose family was an integral part of downtown Salisbury for decades, there’s a personal desire to see the downtown succeed.

“My mother grew up two doors down, my grandfather died two doors down, so yeah I have an emotional attachment, but having said that, downtown’s that revitalize themselves improve life for everyone in the city," Post said.

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