Port of Salisbury development proposal is ambitious

Groundbreaking is expected by mid-2017 on Marina Landing, a multi-million-dollar residential and commercial complex spread over 5 acres on the Wicomico River, near Salisbury’s marina.

“It’s going to change the whole landscape of the river,” said developer David Perlmutter, with Salisbury Development Group.

The mixed-use project will have retail on the ground floor of a building with a 15,000-square-foot footprint. The five- or six-story structure will feature one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in towers.

“It will be right there at the marina. The apartments will have access to the docks. People can rent the docks there. We will also be building a boathouse with some retail there, too, like a crew boathouse,” Perlmutter told the Salisbury Independent.

There will be a pool and could also be a restaurant.

“We are still assessing it. We don’t have definite plans yet,” Perlmutter said, adding the apartments will be affordable. Parking will be in the nearby city-owned lot.

Once ground is broken, it will take another 18 months or so for construction. First, though, a site plan must be done and permit applications completed. A city sewage pump station will also have to be relocated.

“That area has been ignored. It’s kind of just been left alone. I see the opportunity to transform that whole riverfront and spread throughout the downtown because the riverfront is so close to downtown. That whole immediate area starts transforming spreading,” Perlmutter said.

“It’s a beautiful river. You’re 20 miles to the bay. There is just a tremendous amount of opportunity there. We hope to work with Salisbury University and offer some outdoor boating-type things, get involved with the school. There are a lot of possibilities,” he said.

Architect Keith Fisher of Fisher Architecture, based in Salisbury, described plans for the exterior of the main building as “a little bit different.”

It will be in conformance with Salisbury’s master plan, so brick will be used, but the design will have a modern flavor and nautical flair.

“It will be an updated image from the architecture of the area. It won’t look like the Port Exchange Building or Chesapeake East,” he said, but have softer lines, a lot of glass low and balconies on some apartments.

While many buildings downtown are made of red brick, Fisher said, “if you look more toward the waterfront there is more of an eclectic mix.”

“Rivers Edge has blues, greens – lighter and with more of a nautical feel.

“Our intention is that the material choice is going to be more earth tones with some exterior wood on the building that you would see on a boat,” he said.

The boat house will have the same design, with an open feel, glass and a tall interior.

The estimated project cost is $20 million. The city will use $90,000 of its Program Open Space money to help pay to construct the boathouse.

Salisbury will continue to own the land where the boathouse and marina will be, and fund capital expenses, but Salisbury Development Group will operate them.

The developer received approval from City Council to pay $1 to purchase one of the parcels and $1 per year to lease the second for 50 years, but Fisher said the deal is more complicated.

“There are portions of the property being leased and portions being purchased. The purchased property is basically land free and clear of any kind of Program Open Space funding grants the city has received. There are portions that had received public Open Space money so they can’t rightfully take over that land without violating those Open Space agreements,” he explained.

Those agreements allow the city to have a boat launch area.

Soon, a kayak launch will open, paid for with Department of Natural Resources money. Fisher said it will be incorporated into Marina Landing once construction is complete, possibly around the end of 2018.

A common area for the community will be on the property.

“There’s a large green area on the waterfront side that is going to be sort of a sloped-up green common,” Fisher said.

“At the end of that where the building is there will be a large 18-by-20-foot outdoor screen for Friday night movie night,” he said. Salisbury University might also want to host viewing of major sporting events there, he said.

A pleased Mayor Jake Day said Marina Landing will allow the waterfront to be embraced.

“It’s about time,” he said, calling the area the most valuable part of Salisbury.

“We’re putting tens of millions of dollars in the heart of the city and not on the periphery,” the mayor said, adding he likes the idea of the city being involved in a public-private endeavor.

“We are extremely excited about this project. We see this development as really spurring other developments coming to Salisbury around the area,” Perlmutter said.

“This project, when it gets off the ground, will definitely help the revitalization and transformation of the riverfront. We’re just the pioneer. But this is instrumental in getting this started. We hope this spurs other development,” he said.

“I think the community will be excited about it.”


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