Council President Eyes More Downtown Partnerships

SALISBURY – Salisbury City Council President Jake Day presented to the Wicomico County Council this week an update on ongoing efforts of revitalizing Salisbury’s downtown and a campaign to seek more partnerships.
“What we are trying to accomplish through the revitalization of Salisbury’s downtown is to work through collaboration, cooperation and creativity. Those three C’s are something that we are trying to adopt not only for the downtown and for the City but in all our conversations with the community,” Day said. “The goal is to ultimately lead to efficiency when it comes to the practices of our government and involvement with government; savings because as much as we like the exciting things we are seeing in terms of private development and investment we recognize that the economy has not completely recovered … and stronger partnerships because we believe that partnerships are going to lead to success in downtown.”
Day furthered the vision for downtown is a rejuvenated economy built on a revitalized urban core and successful urban and rural industries.
Several events currently underway to give a boost to downtown Salisbury includes Third Friday, which is an art and entertainment event held every month on Main Street.
“If you visited the plaza this past Friday, we had thousands of people over the course of the night. It was really unbelievable,” Day said. “That plays into another thing that is happening, public enthusiasm. There is a spirit of enthusiasm surrounding this particular subject not only in this area but others, so we are kind of riding a wave that is working in other places.”
Jason Broadwater, an economic development keynote speaker and consultant, has been in town to speak to several organizations, such as the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce this week.
Economic Development Keynote Speaker & Consultant
“We have met with the State of Maryland. We wanted to say to them ‘yes, we have the enthusiasm and we are committed to this revitalization and we are doing the things you have been telling us to do all along, so now we need you at the table. It is not enough for you to pat us on the back…,” Day said.
The city has also been working with the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture Planning and Real Estate Development, which is moving a graduate urban design studio and a capstone senior undergraduate architectural studio to downtown Salisbury next spring.
Day explained the city has been working diligently over past several months to develop incentives to bring private investment to the downtown, such as the Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) Incentive Zone, an Industrial Wastewater Credit, Revolving Loan Fund, New Grant Fund, and free wireless Internet access.
Also, on Monday night the City Council will be considering a resolution to pass a Veterans Preference Policy establishing a preference for veteran-owned business in Salisbury.
There is currently significant private investment going into the downtown, such as work at the All First, Ethan Allen, and the Feldman buildings, as well as reconstruction of the historical firehouse.
Other projects in the downtown area include Riverwalk and the city’s work to replace the bulkhead around that property, Rivers Edge and bike routes. There are 150 apartments in the area with 97.6 percent of them being occupied, as well as 11 restaurants and/or bars.
Day showed a couple renderings of commercial and residential development created by the State of Maryland’s Department of Planning in Lot 1 near the Public Library that is city-owned surplus lot, and in Lot 10 that is also a city-owned lot adjacent to the District Court Building.
Day pointed out that while the renderings may not be realistic it still gives an idea of what would be legally allowed in those spaces. He added the build out in Lot 1 contains more square footage then there is at the Center of Salisbury Mall.
“This is about the community, both the city and the county … and I look forward to continue to work with all of you to find ways to partner to support downtown … we are trying to roll out the red carpet,” Day said. “We look at the downtown as the heart and soul of this community, and we are ready to make the investment that we need to make.”
Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman was excited to witness Day’s enthusiasm over revitalizing downtown Salisbury. She suggested a partnering effort the city and county can take on to streamline an easier permit process as achieving permits have been a challenge in the past.
“I will be very interested in how this evolves,” Prettyman said. “Salisbury is definitely the hub of Wicomico County and when Salisbury shines so does Wicomico County.”