Firehouse renovation clears Historic Commission hurdle

The city's Historic District Commission has give the green light for a new music facility in the old Station 16 headquarters.

The city’s Historic District Commission has give the green light for a new music facility in the old Station 16 headquarters.

Owners of Headquarters Live, the historic firehouse being transformed into a concert hall, are celebrating the Historic District Commission’s most recent approval.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said an elated Brad Gillis, who owns the former fire department headquarters with brothers Chris and Joey Gilkerson. It’s located at Division Street and Circle Avenue downtown, near the library.

On July 23, the trio’s request for three additional openings on the north side of the building, to allow an inside-outside setting, got an affirmative nod.

“It will give us better sightlines to the stage and a little bit more flexibility to having a larger venue,” said Gillis, principal owner of Devreco, a Salisbury development real estate company.

Although the vote wasn’t unanimous, it was by majority and propelled owners a step closer to opening a setting for live concerts downtown, likely by the end of the year.

The owners earlier obtained a building permit, so work on the 1920s building is steadily being completed.

The original floor plan arrangement changed, “because we were granted permission for the three additional openings,”  Gillis explained.

The interior design is being kept as close as possible to the original firehouse, as is the street façade. It hasn’t yet been decided if antique fire trucks will be on display.

“The whole intent behind the name and also the venue are that it is an old firehouse. Our goal is to really play on those to work in firehouse-type themes,” Gillis said.

In May, Joey Gilkerson, who, with his brother bought the building for $85,000 last October, estimated renovation costs at $500,000. The building appraised for less than $200,000, he said.

At Headquarters Live, guests will buy tickets, enjoy a show and have a small bar available, but no food concessions are planned.

They named it in honor of the former headquarters for the city’s fire department, before the building became Station 16.

“It’s in fairly good shape. We’ve already done some interior demolition and some roof work,” Gilkerson said in the spring. Although the acoustics were “horrible,” they are being improved, he said.

Gilkerson earlier estimated standing room crowd capacity at around 400 to 500, but Gillis said the number is being determined by the fire marshal’s office.

No entertainers have been booked yet. “I really don’t have any idea yet who we would try to get to come here. It would be hard to get a John Mayer with only 500 seats unless you charged $150 for a ticket,” Gilkerson said.

But, he added, an up-and-coming country artist would be a popular choice.

“It’s going to be Salisbury’s next biggest attraction, so it will be a place for regional artists to come and entertain and at the same time a place for local artists to come and perform as well,” Gilkerson said.

At first, entertainment will be planned for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with days added as demand increases, Gillis said.


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