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City exhausts this year’s funds for Innes Street Improvements, Municipal Services District grant programs

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Community Appearance Commission has granted nearly all of its $40,000 allocation for local projects intended to improve the visual and functional characteristics of downtown.

The city hosted a group of architects, planners, landscapers and a traffic engineer to conduct a study of the visual and functional characteristics of Innes Street in 1995. Under the guidance of the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects, they participated in a planning workshop known as the Urban Design Assistance Team. The workshop led to an extensive list of recommendations for improving the appearance and functionality of the downtown corridor, called “Towards a Vision of the Future — The Innes Street Corridor Study.”

The city’s Community Appearance Commission is tasked with implementing those recommendations and making requests for  funding from the Salisbury City Council each year to encourage Innes Street and Municipal Services District merchants to make façade and other exterior improvements.

Eligible property owners include those with businesses located in the MSD or one block from Innes Street. Owners must be up to date on their property tax payments, and a property doesn’t have to be occupied at the time a grant application is submitted. However, a project is deemed ineligible if work begins at any point before the application is reviewed and approved by the Community Appearance Commission.

Eligible projects include improvements to or installation of exterior paintings, façades, awnings, pedestrian amenities, masonry repairs, windows, doors, murals, roof repairs, addition of patios, removal of dilapidated buildings and parking lots and driveways.

Projects that aren’t eligible include routine maintenance, tools used for repair work, unapproved exterior alterations to properties within the Local Historic Districts, interior rehabilitation or improvements that aren’t part of the façade design and new building construction.

The Community Appearance Commission scores each application on a scale of 0-3 points based on the project type and the project quality, with “the introduction of new elements” receiving three points. Replacement and stabilization of deteriorated features and elements, along with minor landscaping, gains two points, while painting and minor repairs gain one point.

Each project is eligible for up to a 50% match from the grant, with a maximum of $5,000 per address per façade. However, funding continues until it’s depleted, meaning that not every application is accepted for the fiscal year in which it was received.

Funding for the grants is awarded from the city each year from the general fund. In the 2020-21 fiscal year, the city granted $40,000 for both programs, which was split into a $20,000 pot for Innes Street Improvement Grants and $20,000 for MSD Grants. To date, all but $217 in the MSD Grants fund has been exhausted. Salisbury Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson told the Post those remaining funds, based on recommendation from the CAC, will be used to place plants into several empty pots located throughout downtown.

Innes Street Improvement Grant recipients for the current fiscal year include Josh Barnhardt of Barnhardt Jewelers for front and rear façade work, Cheryl Goins of Pottery 101 for signs, Lloyd Nickerson for front and rear façade repairs and awnings at 106 and 108 W. Innes St., and Pam Coffield of Stitchin’ Post Gifts for front façade paint. Originally, $5,000 was approved for Sophia Talarantas of Christo’s Restaurant for a landscaping project, but that project has been delayed and funding was instead granted to Coffield.

MSD Grant recipients include Tiffany Kwok for façade work at Wong’s Chinese Restaurant, Michael Owen for window repairs and paint at 116 East Council Street, Davis Cooke for paint and awnings at 124-126 West Innes St. and James Faust for improvements at 111 West Fisher St.

Barnhardt recently used several grants to fund major structural repairs to the building of his new location of Barnhardt Jewelers at 112 East Innes St. He told the Post he needed $100,000 total to repair the structural issues inherited upon purchase of the building.

“It was a 140-year-old building with 140-year-old problems,” he said.

Barnhardt ultimately received a package of four grants from the Downtown Revitalization Incentive program, including a building revitalization portion for major structural improvements, a residential production grant for creating downtown apartments upstairs, a residential utilities grant to cover the cost of bringing water and sewer to the building and a fire suppression grant to install a fire sprinkler system.

But he applied for an Innes Street Improvement grant separately, and received two $5,000 grants for the front and rear façade. Those grants allowed him to replace both façades and apply a historic look. Receiving those grants, he said, made the entire relocation feasible.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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