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Ch. 11: Unique, Dynamic Downtown

Downtown Salisbury will continue to be the heart and center of the city where history, innovation, and the arts animate the City with diversified opportunities to live, work, play and prosper.

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Forward 2040 Chapter 11: Unique, Dynamic Downtown

Dynamic downtowns are characterized by progress, change, and activity.  They have an important role in the economic and social development in a city.  With over 250 years of history, Salisbury continues to adapt and improve its unique place in Rowan County.  The purpose of this section is to encourage continued improvement in Salisbury’s downtown with respect to its public spaces, infrastructure, historic architecture, transportation, cultural spaces, and business development to establish Downtown Salisbury as its own unique neighborhood.

Goal 11.1. Maintain an attractive public realm, such as parks, plazas, and streetscapes

The quality of public spaces add to Salisbury’s quality of life, economic vitality, and identity.  There are fifteen parks, plazas and pedestrian alleys within Salisbury’s downtown that contribute to its character.  Features such as the Bell Tower Green Park, bricked street and festoon lighting along East Fisher Street, and public art throughout the Municipal Service District add to its ambiance.  The Innes Street Corridor Plan and the Downtown Main Street Plan illustrate ways to continue to improve the downtown’s streetscapes.

Policy 11.1.1.  

Provide guidance to Downtown Salisbury Inc. to develop a downtown specific Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) to prioritize enhancements and implement the most recent Downtown Master Plan.

Policy 11.1.2.  

Maximize the use of sidewalks with events, dining, public art, and interactive public spaces to invigorate downtown street spaces. 

Policy 11.1.3.

Enhance the functionality and use of the areas adjacent to and behind buildings, especially those used as pedestrian areas and parking lots, with murals, landscaping, and other attractive features.

Policy 11.1.4. 

Support publicly available, free Wi-Fi across downtown.

Policy 11.1.5.  

Prioritize downtown corridors, such as Innes Street, Long Street, and Main Street, for visual improvements, public investments, and pedestrian amenities. 

Policy 11.1.6. 

Showcase the Bell Tower Green Park as a central location for community gathering and prioritize the addition of green spaces and plantings downtown. 

Policy 11.1.7.  

Encourage the redevelopment and reuse of underutilized surface parking lots, brownfield sites, and vacant buildings and lots.

Policy 11.1.8.  

Work with the Public Art Commission and stakeholders to create a Public Art Master Plan. 

Policy 11.1.9.  

Prioritize the completion of the Main Street Plan and further maintenance of the streetscape.
Main Street Plan
The Main Street Plan was adopted by City Council in March 2021. The plan re-envisions Main Street with curb extensions, streetscaping, and added greenery. The first step of the plan, the Striping Plan, concluded in September 2021. The restriping brought the automobile travel lanes down from four lanes to three lanes and added on-street parking by changing the angle of parking from 30 degrees to 45 degrees. Below is a concept image of the intersection of Innes and Main Streets from the plan.

Goal 11.2. Increase multimodal transportation options and create easy trips to downtown from any point in Salisbury

As of this writing, changes are underway with improvements to Salisbury’s Main Street and the Salisbury Passenger Train Depot.  There are more bicycle lanes downtown, bicycle racks, electric buses, and more train stops coming to Salisbury.  These developments and the investments that support them will affect daily choices and experiences of people traveling to, from, and within Salisbury.   

Policy 11.2.1.  

Expand connections to downtown from all areas in Salisbury with continuously updated wayfinding signage, sidewalk and bicycle lane networks, and ensuring adequate parking. 
Downtown Action 1: 
Partner with Rowan County Tourism to update wayfinding in downtown.

Policy 11.2.2.  

Create a pedestrian-friendly downtown through the implementation of the Main Street Plan and the Innes/Long Street Complete Streets Study.

Policy 11.2.3.  

Expand transportation options by introducing bicycle infrastructure such as bicycle lanes, bicycle turn boxes, and adequate bicycle parking and storage. 
Downtown Action 2:
Explore the creation of a multimodal transportation hub centered in the area around the Salisbury Passenger Depot to bring visitors into downtown. 

Policy 11.2.4.  

Locate off-street, public parking behind buildings. 

Policy 11.2.5.  

Promote the expansion of passenger rail through Salisbury.

Policy 11.2.6. 

Engage with private entities seeking public partnership in constructing a downtown parking garage.
Downtown Action 3: 
Develop a plan for Residential and Commercial Parking Programs in Downtown. 

Goal 11.3. Support the development of a downtown neighborhood 

Downtown Salisbury is growing as a residential neighborhood.  There are nearly two hundred units of residential spaces currently in downtown with the capacity to grow by 90-130 units in the next five years according to the Downtown Salisbury Market Analysis Report conducted by UNC’s School of Government Development Finance Initiative in 2021.  Investments in quality restoration and new buildings is essential to maintaining downtown Salisbury’s character.  The City, Downtown Salisbury Inc., and other organizations should continue to support downtown as a place of business and as a residential community. 

Policy 11.3.1.  

Promote Salisbury’s downtown as a residential neighborhood with housing that is available at a variety of price points, including workforce, affordable, and market-rate housing. Encourage a mixture of renter and owner-occupied units. 
Downtown Action 4:
Assist in the creation of a Downtown Neighborhood Group to support the growing residential community.

Policy 11.3.2.  

Investigate financial and development tools to incentivize the creation of workforce and affordable housing.

Policy 11.3.3.  

Work with Downtown Salisbury, Inc., the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, and other stakeholders to recruit neighborhood services that cater to residents in downtown.  

Goal 11.4. Support the development of different business types and business sectors, especially small businesses and the hospitality sector

Entities and programs like RowanWORKS, Downtown Salisbury Inc., and the Rowan Chamber, work to advance the business interests of the Salisbury community.  The City should continue to support development efforts through its grants and other incentive programs. 

Policy 11.4.1.

Encourage assorted retail, office, institutional, residential, dining, service, and entertainment uses in the downtown.

Policy 11.4.2. 

Encourage business sectors that are vital to downtown’s success through grants, loans, incentives, and other programs. 

Policy 11.4.3.

 Explore partnerships to market available downtown properties, attract and retain downtown businesses, and redevelop underutilized sites for new uses.

Policy 11.4.4.   

Encourage short-term rental uses while taking caution to ensure affordable housing for residents and retaining neighborhood character in the downtown.

Goal 11.5. Encourage the creation and growth of museums, theaters, galleries, and other cultural and community venues

Downtown Salisbury contains many of the City’s iconic landmarks, cultural institutions, art venues, restaurants, and other public and private gathering spaces.  Enhancing existing partnerships and continuing to promote expansion of cultural venues is important for Salisbury’s economic and social development of the downtown.  

Policy 11.5.1. 

Locate major cultural and art institutions and events in downtown.

Policy 11.5.2.  

Support, promote, and expand existing arts and cultural facilities and programs, such as the annual Sculpture Show. 

Policy 11.5.3.  

Partner with non-profits, colleges, and other organizations to create new cultural facilities downtown. 
Downtown Action 5: 
Establish a plan for free Wi-Fi in downtown to support visitors and events.

Goal 11.6. Stimulate adaptive reuse projects to activate underutilized historic structures  

Salisbury’s historic buildings are an asset to the character of the downtown. With a projected increase in demand for more office, retail, and multifamily development from the Downtown Finance Institute Marketing Study, downtown rehabilitated spaces could absorb the demand.  The City should encourage more grant incentives to rehabilitate its underutilized spaces as well as continue to promote partnerships with the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority, Historic Salisbury Foundation, Rowan Chamber, and others to enhance Salisbury’s Art District and new development that fits Salisbury’s downtown character.  

Policy 11.6.1.  

Support the redevelopment of the Railwalk as an arts and entertainment destination. Employ placemaking strategies to retain the Railwalk as a uniquely Salisbury experience.  

Policy 11.6.2.  

Encourage growth to enhance downtown’s vibrancy while ensuring that new development is compatible with Salisbury’s existing architecture. 

Policy 11.6.3.  

Expand incentive programs that lead to the rehabilitation of underutilized historic buildings. 

Policy 11.6.4.  

Enforce the Downtown Maintenance Code in instances where buildings are not maintained to minimum standards. 

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