History lesson: Cheraw mayor visits Salisbury, takes notes May 12, 2023

SALISBURY — Salisbury’s reputation for historic preservation efforts earned it a visit from a South Carolina mayor on Monday.

Cheraw Mayor Andy Ingram joined several Salisbury residents for a tour of the Hall House Museum, which is located on Jackson Street in the city’s historic district.

“(Salisbury) has a gorgeous historic district,” Ingram said. I was impressed with all the homes in the district and how well maintained they are.”

Ingram indicated a desire to direct resources in his town toward historic preservation, much like Salisbury has.

“We have a lot of antebellum homes similar to Salisbury,” Ingram said. “The Hall House reminds me of the home that is next door to my home called the Lafayette House, which was built (circa 1815). We have many homes that are very characteristic of what I saw in Salisbury.”

After touring the Hall House, Ingram sat down with Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander for lunch at The Palms Grill.

Alexander indicated she was eager to host a mayor from out of state and share ideas about historic preservation.

“I think the emphasis 30-plus years ago to save our historic fabric was a great decision,” Alexander said. “It allowed us to become a leader nationally. We are looked at from a national basis of doing it well.”

The conversation veered into similarities between the two cities regarding growth and development.

“We talked about managing growth and how even the idea of growing is exciting, but at the same time, it is challenging to do it well,” Alexander said.

Ingram added, “It was interesting to trade ideas and compare Salisbury’s local government to Cheraw’s local government. We have some of the same issues that Salisbury deals with, like infrastructure and annexation. We don’t experience the growing pains that Salisbury might, but we are very involved in downtown revitalization and preserving the businesses there.”

Ingram indicated that Cheraw utilizes tax incentives and enterprise zones to attract investors to its downtown, pointing to the SpringHill Suites hotel as one example.

“We were introduced to a developer from Wilmington,” Ingram said. “We made it happen … to convince them, we had to get the business, healthcare, and industry community together at one table to meet with his group to let them know that if he built it, we would come.”

Ingram identified a viable nightlife as a passageway to downtown revitalization and sees parallels with how Salisbury has reimagined itself.

“We invite the nightlife,” Ingram said. “Let them do a crawl. We are trying to have a lot of our events to bring people to the downtown area.”

According to Alexander, much of Salisbury’s work with curating a historic district that blends with its downtown revitalization efforts stems from an amicable relationship with Raleigh.

“We talked about how we work with our legislators at the state level because they provide the laws that allow us and the tax credits,” Alexander said. “Recently, our legislators in N.C. voted to make our historic tax credits permanent.”

Alexander encouraged Ingram to pursue similar communication with his counterparts in Columbia, South Carolina, while stressing a need to keep those efforts in-house when possible.

“(Ingram) is going to go back and work and advocate in South Carolina,” Alexander said. “We talked about the advocacy of keeping control at the local level and how even though we are in different states, we both face that, always trying to protect our ability to make decisions that affect our local community here at home because we are the closest to the people.”

The mayor said she would welcome more out-of-town local leaders to visit Salisbury, noting that diversity of ideas is healthy to guide progress and projects moving forward.

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