Major Downtown tract is sold, slated for development

The owner of Cactus Taverna has purchased a three-acre lot at 500 Riverside Drive with the intention of opening a new local restaurant there, and likely commercial and residential development as well.

The parcel was sold in January for $650,000, Wesley Cox of SVN-Miller Commercial Real Estate SVN, confirmed this week. The property is regarded by many as among the most significant in Salisbury and its careful development is regarded as crucial to the city’s future.

“It takes some designing, so it won’t open this year. You have to factor in the Riverwalk and the owner may or may not have to do some bulkhead repairs. Several years ago, bulkheading was placed there but I don’t think it was covering the exact length of the property,” said Cox.

He said the new restaurant won’t necessarily be a Cactus Taverna, a continuing-popular Mexican-Mediterranean establishment in north Salisbury. The restaurant is expected to have a different theme.

The property was sold three times – in 2004 for $1.4 million, in 2013 for $500,000 and in January.

After the first sale, the building was demolished and there was an undertaking to erect a six-story or seven-story condo development with stone front.

“There were some really great plans. They had pre-sold some units. Then the market crashed. They felt it and the neighbors felt it, too. They were asking $500,000 per unit at the time and they dropped to $200,000. The residential people got rid of it in 2013. It’s been sitting,” he said.

“Way back when, there was a two-story brick building on site with a loading dock and warehouse. It was a company called Cavalier Resources. It was an oil company, but they didn’t do anything with oil. They just had the administration offices there. It was an old industrial rough-looking property,” Cox explained.

Site plans haven’t yet been completed for the new development, so Cox wasn’t sure if Cactus Taverna – a popular establishment with a Mediterranean cuisine — will close and reopen on Riverside Drive, if a second location will be added or if a different restaurant will be built.

Because the property faces the Wicomico River and is at a busy intersection, it’s ideal for commercial development, according to an announcement by SVN-Miller Commercial Real Estate.

Developer Henry Hanna represented the buyer, who has plans to develop the mixed-use building and include the restaurant with additional office or retail space available for lease. Brad Gillis and Joey Gilkerson represented the seller, Devreco.

“Restaurants are the backbone of creating a cultural and art hub in our downtown,” Gilkerson said.

“We are particularly excited that a user, as opposed to an investor, has purchased this parcel. They want to start building as soon as possible so they can use the real estate immediately,” he said.

Cox is pleased about the benefit to Downtown.

“It’s really going to help that whole redevelopment effort. Any time we put an established restaurant like this into the Downtown footprint, it’s going to be a stimulant. It fits right in. The good thing is will be new development. New buildings give a little bit of a new look,” he said.

Cox likes the idea of fresh, modern design mixing with existing structures.

“Like they did with Acorn Market where Feldman’s is, I think having old and new with some consistency looks good.

“There are a lot of different ways this property could be developed. It could be three of anything. People are asking me, ‘Is it going to be a high rise with restaurant under it?’ I don’t see any negatives to having it be three different pad sites, with a shared parking lot,” he said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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