Photo courtesy of Salisbury Renaissance
CITY COUNCIL MEETING: November 21, 2017
WRITTEN TESTIMONY from HISTORIC SALISBURY FOUNDATION
On Item 8. Issuance of a Demolition Permit for the Structure Located at 201 East Innes Street
Thank you for the opportunity to speak and for agreeing to hold a public hearing on this important matter.
The City of Salisbury is recognized throughout the state for historic preservation. Historic preservation is ingrained in the fabric of this community and enshrined in its laws. We are here today because a prior City Council had the foresight to see that legislation was passed by the State’s General Assembly and enacted locally to prevent the unrestrained demolition of historic buildings within our downtown core. This approach is what sets Salisbury apart from many of the small towns that populate our area.
I turn to the pink granite service station located at 201 East Innes Street. As most of you know, Historic Salisbury Foundation has been at the forefront of efforts to save the pink granite service station. We requested—and, were granted--a 365-day stay of demolition from Historic Preservation Commission in September of 2016. The Foundation strongly believes that this 1930’s service station, built of local Balfour pink granite, is unique and architecturally important. We are not alone in that assessment. The National Register of Historic Places’ nomination for the 1999 extension of the Salisbury Historic District designated the service station as a “contributing building”, calling it “visually striking”.
Historic Salisbury Foundation went to a great effort and expense to develop alternatives to the demolition of the pink granite service station. From the outset, we believed that there were several ways to keep the service station and allow the developers to build what they wanted. We actually commissioned a rendering of one such alternative. We worked with the City and we met a number of times with the developers. The Foundation’s efforts led the developers to rethink the project.
The intent of any stay of demolition is to provide the interested parties with time to find an acceptable alternative. I am pleased to state that the process worked as intended.
Ideally, the Foundation would like to see a restored pink granite service station remain in its current location. But, none of us live in an ideal world. The developers have agreed to dismantle and re-build the historic part of structure three lots East of its current location to 219 East Innes Street (moving is not an option given that the structure has no foundations). Historic Salisbury Foundation supports this alternative—it saves the historic portion of the pink granite service station and returns it to commercial use. We consider that quite an accomplishment in light of the public uproar that occurred a year ago after the stay of demolition was granted.
The project expanded and now includes the preservation and adaptive reuse of the two historic automobile service buildings adjacent to the pink granite service station, located at 211 and 215 East Innes Street (built in 1928 and 1927 respectively) and designated as “contributing buildings” in the National Register nomination. With a three-building development, parking becomes a more serious consideration. ‘Relocation’ of the historic portion of pink granite service station to 219 East Innes Street frames the streetfront and hides the parking area behind it—creating urban design that benefits our historic downtown.
We applaud the developers for being open-minded and for working with the Foundation. We wish them great success with this project. And, we stand ready to help if needed. We note for the record that this is a demolition hearing and the historic portion of the structure will be dismantled and rebuilt rather than demolished. There are some technicalities there, but we assume they will be addressed as and when appropriate.