Salisbury Rising 2019: Bret Davis transforming landmark structures

Bret Davis.

Two iconic buildings in Downtown Salisbury are getting much-needed makeovers thanks to a young and energetic team at Davis Strategic Development that is turning One Plaza East and the City Center into a couple of the city’s trendiest spots.

One Plaza East – the former Wicomico Hotel – is about to get a Division Street entrance to its lobby for the first time in years, said Bret Davis, a partner in the development company.

Previously, anyone visiting offices in the upstairs floors had to search for the main door located on the side of the building off of an alleyway. Now the front door will be prominent.

“The most exciting thing in 50-plus years is seeing that first floor come to life,” said Mayor Jake Day.

In the first floor space once occupied by the Bank of Delmarva, a new ice cream shop, Angello’s Scoops, and a restaurant, Mogan’s Oyster House, are going in on either side of the new entrance.

Angello’s Scoops owner Sandy Angello relocated Angello’s Unique Gifts from the space next to Acorn Market in Riverside Commons to the new site.

Angello’s opened on Sept. 6, the first day of the National Folk Festival, featuring ice cream from Hopkins Farm Creamery in Lewes and a line of gift items.

Mayor Jake Day said the shop proved to be a huge hit as soon as it opened. In that first weekend, the shop sold 2,200 ice cream cones and the same number of ice cream bowls.

“The reaction was stunning,” he said.

Work is still ongoing at Mogan’s, which is expected to open in the coming months. Davis said he’s excited about the new eatery that will feature a menu of mostly seafood and an oyster bar.

“Salisbury’s never seen anything like it,” he said.

Denny Mogan, owner of the new restaurant, said it will offer modern coastal cuisine.

The focal point will be a long bar in the back corner that will serve up raw and grilled oysters, but the restaurant also will offer a full menu with options that include lobster rolls, steamed clams, po’ boy sandwiches, seviche, steak frites, crab Louis and lobster Newburg, Mogan said.

The restaurant will have 100 seats at tables and at the bar. There will be 20 more seats at a patio space outside.

“Another restaurant downtown will be another nice feature,” Day said.

When work on One Plaza East is completed, it will be 100 percent occupied, Davis said.

The City Center’s atrium is undergoing a rebuild.

There is still a lot of work left to do at the City Center building on the Downtown Plaza that the developers purchased a year ago.

Since then, they have created a new entrance to Roadie Joe’s Bar & Grill off of the Plaza. Previously, patrons entered the restaurant through the City Center lobby.

Davis said Roadie’s also will be expanding to the second floor with a banquet space and golf simulator.

“It’s pretty wild,” Davis said of the latter. “It’s going to be something unique.”

The building was first created by local businessman Bill Ahtes in the 1970s out of three old storefronts that had been damaged in a fire. Ahtes “did a great job” with the property, but subsequent owners let it slide, Davis said.

Plans for the building include a complete renovation of the interior, new bathrooms and a glass elevator in the center atrium, Davis said.

The partners also have installed a new security system that requires keycard access to the building after they discovered homeless people had been living there, he said.

Tenants in the building include the Smith Management Group, Knupp Agency, a makeup studio and a record shop, which Davis said has proven to be very popular.

“They always have someone in there,” he said.

A mobile hanging in the atrium was donated to the Delmarva Discovery Center and a grand piano that once sat in the lobby went to the Wicomico County school system, he said.

The partners have also renovated Edison Lofts at 235 West Main St. on the Downtown Plaza that has a hair salon on the lower level and four apartments upstairs with new kitchens and bathrooms and exposed brick walls.

“They’re the nicest apartments in Salisbury,” Davis said.

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