Salisbury landmark undergoing big changes

One Plaza East recently installed a new awning during the renovations to the building in Downtown Salisbury. (Todd Dudek/Salisbury Independent)

An upscale restaurant, ice cream shop and retail store will open in the renovated One Plaza East in July, following three years of work on the historic, seven-story building, built in 1912.

“It will be iconic. The awning is 22 feet long. It’s like the awning on the original Wicomico Hotel. It reuses the bolts used when the building was originally a hotel,” said Bret Davis of The Davis Group, which owns most of the floors.

“We are bringing back what the hotel was before. Honestly, it looks nicer than the one that was there before,” Davis said.

He wouldn’t yet say which restaurant will open, or the name of the retail shop, but will announce them soon.

“I can say there will be an ice cream component and the restaurant will definitely be upscale dining with a bar and outdoor seating. The city is going to redo the street in front so the outdoor seating is separate for the restaurant and the ice cream shop, with maybe 20-plus seats outdoors for the restaurant,” Davis said.

The upper floors have been remodeled and are completely occupied.

Blueprints for upgrades on the first floor are complete and construction will begin soon to install marble floors and chandeliers.

Exterior improvements include new gas lamps on the outside. T-Mobile and AT&T put cell towers on top and Maryland Broadband, Verizon and Comcast Internet are all available.

“Internet-wise I can say from talking to my friends that only a couple buildings in all of Salisbury have all three,” Davis said.

Spotlights and uplighting will make the building visible from anywhere in town.

“The spotlights will be multi-colored, so at Christmas they will be red and green. The lights are huge. There are nine of them and they are New York size. They will be mounted on the second floor,” Davis said.

Late last year, he posted a photo of One Plaza East on Facebook and promised, “Davis Simpson is about to change the way you look at Downtown. Progress is happening downtown. Old buildings are coming alive again.”

“My goal is, I want people to be able to see the building. The average person can walk in and appreciate the lobby but at 5 p.m. the doors will lock. Guests will be able to get to the restaurant from the lobby. There will be a vestibule area to walk into.

Bret Davis.

“We are not going to spare any expense on the lobby. We are going to bring back the original concrete ceilings, 15 to 18-foot ceilings, exposed concrete, a modern look.

“We bought two floors of the building and then one floor at a time we started buying up more. We don’t own the top floor but we own everything else. Once we owned everything else, nobody ever realized it, but we’ve been remodeling for two and one-half years. To me it was like, how do you finish the other floors and leave the first floor? It was an absolute travesty,” he said.

“We bought the building in 2016. When we first started, I told my partner it would take 10 to 15 years, but it just kept steamrolling.

“I’ve always been a history buff. I love bringing back old Downtown buildings. The architecture is so intricate. The building is 100 percent concrete, no stick anywhere. We could never reproduce it,” he said.

“This was like the coolest building to me in Downtown Salisbury. This was my favorite,” Davis said.

“I love the idea of tall buildings. It has a parking lot. It has everything going for it. Now we’re putting the icing on the cake.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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