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Mayor: White House officials coming to look at Empire Hotel, other properties in Salisbury

Updated: Oct. 4, 2019 at 11:25 AM EDT
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SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - Salisbury Mayor Al Heggins has announced that officials from the White House will be in Salisbury next week to see the Empire Hotel and other properties designated as “Opportunity Zones.”

“I think this gives Salisbury an opportunity to talk with the officials are actually responsible, who create it, and who run the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, so that we can have a comprehensive conservation how do we then begin to tap into that grant money," Mayor Heggins told WBTV on Friday.

Black Point Investments plans to redevelop the hotel, located on S. Main Street, into residential and retail space. Black Point’s proposal will redevelop the 104,000-square-foot facility on a 1.39-acre site into 62 apartments and six small retail spaces.

According to the Rowan Economic Development Commission, the project is expected to increase the property tax value of the building from $1 million to $13 million after the renovations are complete.

According to Mayor Heggins, White House officials will be in Salisbury on Tuesday, Oct. 8, to tour four properties and participate in a public meeting and panel discussion at the Salisbury City Council Chambers.

“This is incredibly good news for our community as we work together to build wealth throughout our city and develop our local economy,” Mayor Heggins posted on social media.

“My profound gratitude to William Crozer, special assistant to President Trump and Deputy Director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, who has helped me coordinate and confirm next week’s visit of White House officials. Mr. Crozer and I first met and discussed Salisbury’s growth and development in 2018 when I attended the White House Summit for Women Mayors. We reconnected at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meetings in Washington, D.C. and Honolulu, Hawaii for additional discussions. Mr. Crozer has been a great advocate for mayors, and I’m thrilled to be in that number as he now helps Salisbury,” Heggins added.

According to the IRS, Opportunity Zones were created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities throughout the country and U.S. possessions by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities. Taxpayers may defer tax on eligible capital gains by making an appropriate investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and meeting other requirements.

President Trump directed cabinet secretaries to identify discretionary grants where preference points will be given for projects within Opportunity Zones. There are currently 150 competitive grants for which local governments are eligible worth more than $770 million that fit into this category of preference points for projects in Opportunity Zones.

“It’s going to be up to the developer whether or not they can really tap into the opportunity zone, but he’s very happy to have the conversation and to look at every option that is out there to make the Empire Hotel successful," Heggins added.

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.

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