Has Salisbury’s Downtown “Death Valley” Reached a Critical Mass?

Posted on January 26, 2015

Steve Mensing, Editor

♦ Downtown Salisbury observers are noting the alarming growth of vacant store fronts and closed restaurants throughout the Downtown area.

Brick Street (East Fisher) seems to be melting down before our eyes.  Expressions, a head shop prospering like a roach surviving the Jurassic age, stands stoically by while the the stores and restaurants around it go out of existence.  Chef Santos’s Restaurant is moving toward the soul survivor category.  “Benchwarmers”, its Tyveck swathed façade still not up to snuff, has its doors open, but for how much longer?  Cooper’s closed its doors ages ago.  Cartucci’s Restaurant, a once popular restaurant, struggles on after mysteriously closing a few weeks ago.  Is no one hearing the alarms going off at the nursing station?

The first block of East Innes struggles to keep from drowning despite its riptide of vacancies and the rapid two month closing of “Chick N’ Ale”.  Perhaps among the elite restaurants in all of Salisbury is “Bangkok Downtown”.  It appears empty many weekday nights.  The opposite side of the first block of East Innes remains shell shocked since “George’s Restaurant” and its metal detector doors remained locked forever.  Was it a trigger happy patron or the hardluck pizza?

Both sides of North Main from the 100 block to the 400 block are a virtual Bermuda Triangle of chronic restaurant and store closings. No restaurant or shop has survived there in the last few years. Basically its ducks in a shooting gallery. “Ethos” hit it n’ quit it within a year. Only “Hap’s” hotdog and hamburger cubby hole and Spanky’s ice cream/soda shop (with a new owner) are the lone survivors.

The South Main badlands, where the Empire is “bulldozer ready” and store fronts are dolled up with graffiti and gang tags, has timed out.  The city needs to level at least 4 blocks of South Main before Salisbury’s mole people drag some hapless thrillseeker down into their burrows.

What causes all the restaurant and shop closings in Downtown Salisbury?  Market-based traffic calming: selling goods for which the public has little need at inflated prices? The excessive Downtown taxes (said to be highest in all of North Carolina?)  Lack of parking?  People fearing going Downtown after dark because of Salisbury’s mushrooming crime? Merchants bolting their doors early while some safety exists?  Costs of the brutal historic codes?  

Has a critical mass been achieved where so many store and restaurant closings means that even less people will show up in the Downtown area?

Will last rites be given when traffic calming finally comes to East Innes? Time to plead with Bentonville, Arkansas to move the Walmart Super Center to the first block North Main to begin stabilizing what’s left of Downtown.


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