Old car wash getting a new life in Salisbury

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The former Soft Touch Car Wash building, a landmark on South Salisbury Boulevard, is being renovated into smaller spaces in a high-visibility location.

“In general, we get a lot of calls from people with two to three employees who want to be on the highway, who want to get their names out there, but they can’t do that as well on a side street. One of the prospects on the space that is being developed at the old Soft Touch building said he needs to be on the highway for branding and visibility,” explained Wesley Cox, senior advisor at SVN/Miller Commercial Real Estate.

“That is something that exists in the market right now, small spaces from 700 square feet to about 2,100 square feet,” he said.

The 5,600-square-foot building on a half-acre of land was purchased for $340,000 by a Baltimore conglomerate in June and renovation is under way. The car wash closed in 2013.

“They are now doing the dirty work of ripping out old doors. They will power wash the entire building. All that will be left will be the shell made of concrete. Concrete lasts. It has good integrity,” Cox said.

“The goal is to dress up that property and to take that eyesore away from Route 13 south,” he said.

As renovation continues, the building will get a distinct façade, parking lot with freshly restriped spaces and new roof and doors. “It will look and feel brand new,” Cox said.

“On paper right now, they have plans to cut that up into about four units, to offer something that is not offered — smaller, spaces on the highway,” Cox said.

Any kind of business now seen on Route 13 can open there once renovation is complete, likely in the first quarter of 2017.

Cox said the desire for smaller spaces follows a trend, as is apparent further south on Route 13, across from Salisbury University.

Examples are the old Pasco building, now completely leased, and the former Horner Honda, now 50 percent rented and featuring 3,000-square-foot units.

“Someone takes an older, tired, commercial property and sees the need for it in the market to redevelop it, to divide it into multiple units, and offers brand new space that didn’t exist in the marketplace,” Cox said.

Generally, real estate experts view Route 13 in three sections – from Dagsboro Road at the northern end to the car dealerships, from the car deal dealerships to the hospital and from the hospital to Fruitland, Cox said.

Each section attracts a different type of tenant.

“It’s a good, healthy sign for Salisbury. It’s a very strong indicator of the market and it eliminates commercial sprawl. What Mayor Jake Day is a strong proponent of, of is to try and limit sprawl in our county and in our city,” Cox said.

“This is a trend that follows increases in demand in the overall market,” he said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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