Salisbury Rising 2019: Revitalization continues

Salisbury will stay on its ambitious track of public works and redevelopment projects throughout the Downtown area, continuing with the Main Street revitalization, building a new Town Square and wrapping up the final elements of the Riverwalk.

And private development projects, including some planned on city parking lots, will continue to reshape Salisbury’s core in the coming years.

“We’ve never really been in a period like this where things have changed so dramatically,” said Mayor Jake Day.

Main Street

Contractors for the Main Street revitalization project were putting a few final touches on the first three blocks between Route 13 and Division Street, and moved onto the Division Street intersection immediately following the National Folk Festival.

Some utility work is under way in the intersection before the project moves along North Division Street toward Route 50, said Amanda Pollack, the city’s Director of Infrastructure and Development.

Work will continue this fall in the block in front of the Courthouse and the Government Office Building, with new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping to match what’s already been completed on Main Street, she said.

The block of South Division Street by the One Plaza East building was not included in the original Main Street plan, but the city awarded a separate contract for the “orphan block” to tie it into a new Town Square.

Work at both ends of the street should wrap up in a few months.

“The goal is by the end of the year to have Division Street done,” Pollack said.

The project will next shift to the Downtown Plaza sometime after the new year, starting at Mill Street and working eastward.

The goal is to have the work wrapped up in time for next year’s National Folk Festival scheduled for Sept. 11-13, 2020, she said.

The Plaza — the section of West Main Street between Mill and Division streets — was converted to a pedestrian-only area in 1968, but it has since been reopened to one-way traffic and limited parking.

The work there next year will replace existing landscaping and sidewalks to match the rest of Main Street. The city also plans to reverse the one-way traffic direction so that vehicles will enter from Mill Street rather than exit there.

“It’s not a shortcut out of town anymore,” Pollack said.

Town Square

Earlier this month, city officials cut the ribbon for Phase 1 of Town Square which involved the placement of pavers to create a food truck pad, installation of seating areas and stone architectural features, and new light poles alongside the city parking garage.

The area provides a new spot for the trucks which used to be limited to one space in front of the Wicomico County Courthouse.

Eventually, Town Square will extend another 150 feet across Division Street and into the large parking lot that the city sold to Gillis Gilkerson for a mixed-use development with retail, apartments and parking.

The city is working with the developers to make sure both projects blend together, Day said.

Once completed, the area will be used during the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, as well as festivals in the Downtown area.

Phase 2 of the project is currently under design, Pollack said.

Day said the city will seek bids for construction of Phase 2 sometime in the next five months. It’s uncertain if it will be completed before next year’s folk festival, he said.

Along the Riverwalk

Several new features along the Riverwalk are planned, including a pedestrian bridge across the Wicomico River at the end of Camden Street behind Market Street Books, Pollack said.

Since the bridge will cross over a navigable waterway, the city is awaiting permits from the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before it can be installed, she said.

Once the permits are approved, it will take about three months to install the 12-foot-wide prefabricated bridge, plus ramps on either side, Pollack said.

Next to the bridge, city officials plan to install an edible garden featuring fruit trees, blueberry bushes, herbs and other edible plants. The city has received a $3,300 grant for the project from the Coastal Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors.

“It’s another element along the Riverwalk to attract people,” Pollack said.

Work on the garden might wait until after the bridge is completed, she said.

The waterfront also will be getting a new dog park after the city partnered with SVN Miller Commercial Real Estate in a crowd funding campaign to raise $5,000 which was matched with funds from the real estate company.

The so-called Bark Park will allow dogs to run free in a fenced-in area that is outfitted with a doggy drinking fountain, a granite hill and fresh landscaping. The surrounding Riverwalk will feature multiple doggie bag stations to keep it accessible and clean for all members of the community.

Pollack said there is an upcoming meeting to discuss the design for the Bark Park.

Another project planned along the Riverwalk is designed to promote peace and conflict resolution.

The Rotary Club of Salisbury plans to build a labyrinth in an unused open space on the northeast side of the South Division Street bridge adjacent to the former city fire station that now houses The Daily Times offices.

The project to mark the club’s 100th anniversary will be similar to one in Chartres Cathedral in France where worshipers follow a single path through a maze-like design on the floor, stopping to pray at points along the path.

New traffic patterns

The city is about to begin construction on a new traffic roundabout at the end of Riverside Drive at one of Salisbury’s busiest intersections.

The new traffic circle will eliminate traffic signals and is expected to ease congestion where Riverside meets Camden Avenue, Carroll Street and Mill Street.

The 120-foot traffic circle is expected to be completed in five months, Day said.

The city also just started a $6 million project on Fitzwater Street to replace water and sewer lines, move a city pump station and move storm water lines, Day said. The work is expected to take two years.

The intersection at South Division Street and Circle Avenue near the Wicomico Public Library will undergo further changes in the not-too-distant future.

The traffic signal there was removed and replaced with a four-way stop. The next step will be to restripe the roadway with new crosswalks and only one lane of traffic in each direction, Pollack said.

Private development

The most ambitious private development project is a 165-foot structure known as The Ross that will be built at 130 and 132 East Main St., using the historical facades of the existing buildings and adding nine more stories.

Construction will get under way this summer on what will be downtown Salisbury’s tallest building – a project that some see as both ambitious and visionary.

“It will add immense value to downtown Salisbury and forever alter the skyline,” Weston Young, Wicomico County’s deputy director of administration, said during a groundbreaking ceremony on June 25.

Several other major development projects are in the works for the Downtown area, including some on city parking lots.

Two lots behind the Downtown Plaza will be redeveloped by Gillis Gilkerson with a multi-use plan including a mix of retail, 100 apartments, and parking. The developers paid $225,000 to the city for Lots 1 and 11 bordered by Camden, Division, West Market streets and Circle Avenue.

The city also is in negotiations with another developer for Lot 10 next to the state office building at the intersection of Routes 50 and 13. Day said the plan to build the mixed-use project that will include a 12-screen movie theater still needs City Council approval.

The city also has sold one waterfront parcel and leased another at the Port of Salisbury Marina to Salisbury Development Group LLC for a mix of commercial and 50 residential units. The developer also has agreed to build a boathouse on the leased portion of the land which is near the River’s Edge apartment complex.

Another city parking lot was sold last year to developer Bret Davis for $15,000 and a small park area next to it known as the Salisbury Green to Ryan Miller for $5,000.

At the time, Davis said he planned to build an apartment complex on the lot which sits between Market Street and the Wicomico River. Miller had plans to build a beer garden in the park area.

All of the work taking place throughout Downtown – both public and private — is outlined in the city’s extensive master plan that was adopted in 2015 under former Mayor Jim Ireton.

Residents should expect to see even more changes in the not-too-distant future, Day said.

“I don’t think we’re done by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

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