Salisbury Rising: South Salisbury Boulevard showing economic promise

South Salisbury Boulevard, in the heart of town, has the distinction of being “where the rooftops are.”

“That’s where the population is,” said John McClellan, senior advisor at SVN|Miller Commercial Real Estate, who keeps an experienced eye on the development, and redevelopment, along the bustling boulevard.

“If you look at the demographics of Salisbury, the more densely populated areas are southeast and southwest, areas like Camden and Riverside Drive, as well as southeast, toward College Avenue, and rural areas like Fox Chase. There is a lot more population than there is northeast and northwest,” he said.


“That’s what is drawing a lot of companies to look at these South Salisbury areas. Most people who come into this market as first-time retailers say they want to be up north because that’s where everybody else is,” he said.

Other companies, though, choose to stay on South Salisbury Boulevard. They realize many residents don’t like the heavy traffic in the north, and prefer being near downtown where there is history, and memories of shopping with family when they were children.

The boulevard, McClellan has observed, is “kind of going through a transition with a lot of existing buildings being repurposed.”

The old Pasco building across from Salisbury University was renovated from a one-unit occupancy to four. Pasco’s Battery Warehouse moved south, to Fruitland.

In its place are Domino’s Pizza, Mid-Atlantic Settlement and a mattress store. One more unit is available.

The Horner Honda and Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant building were sold to an investor who will retrofit them, McClellan said. The new owner, a private investor from Ocean City, has started work and plans to have three or four units there.

The BB&T bank building that used to be next to SU was been demolished and the property purchased by the university.  BB&T moved across from Cheers a couple of years ago, McClellan said.

“A lot of people asked if that building is available but it’s part of SU’s master plan,” he said.

Developer Frank Hanna purchased the water tower at College Avenue and South Salisbury Boulevard.

“He bought it from the city when the city opened bids. My understanding is, he went through the bid process on it. Part of the bid was, you have to tear it down,” McClellan said.

He refused to comment on whether or not Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant will go there, saying only there have been many rumors.

McDonald’s near SU has also closed. Its successor won’t be a new McDonald’s, or any other restaurant, due to a company policy, he explained.

Vinny’s La Roma Italian restaurant, a landmark on South Salisbury  Boulevard for many years, closed and was replaced by  Agave Azul, a new Mexican restaurant.

World Gym, across the boulevard from Giant, closed.

“All I know is, there was a dispute with the landlord and they were asked to leave,” McClellan said. He added he hasn’t heard any news on the fate of Giant, in the wake of rumors the grocery store will eventually lock its doors one last time.

Break Time Sports Bar & Pub went out of business a couple of years ago, and the building could be renovated or torn down, he said.

There’s new life on the boulevard, though.

The new 1400 South food court — with Primo Hoagies, Hopper’s Tap House, Da’Nizza Pizza, Wingin’ It, Smokin’ Grille BBQ and Café U surrounding an open food court — “is a unique opportunity because you have a lot of smaller shops with a common area,” he said.

“I don’t see a trend in business on South Salisbury Boulevard. It’s just the natural churn, what we call churn in our business. McDonald’s closed because there was one nearby. Break Time, it was during the recession when it went away,” he said.

“It’s the natural evolution. SU continues to grow. That’s a huge benefit for our community with 8,000 students and all the economic impact.

“Most of the churn is from College Avenue south to past Dogwood Drive. You also have Court Plaza, which was purchased two years ago by a group of Chinese investors. They are still slowly moving through the approval process,” he said.

Growth remains healthy on South Salisbury Boulevard.

“Yes, I think so. There’s the natural churn. Horner Honda goes out, tenants go in. A lot of these changes, whether a business is going out, or moving out, they create new opportunity,” he said.

“That’s what we’re always trying to do. We’re always looking for the best opportunity, not just to go further out and build a new building on existing dirt.”

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