Letter-to-the-Editor: Councilman Kenny Hardin is Spot on about What is Going on in Downtown Salisbury and DSI Inc.

Posted on October 14, 2016

Rabbi Will McCubbin, China Grove, N.C.

♦ The merchants and restaurant owners in Downtown Salisbury should be praising City Councilman Kenny Hardin to the sky for standing up and telling the truth about Salisbury’s Downtown and its alleged promoter Paula Bohland and DSI. Facts are facts–nobody is really going down there. From the South Main Badlands all the way up to just past the County Courthouse is littered with vacant storefronts, vacant buildings, and vacant offices galore. Kenny’s tour didn’t include all the vacancies on East and West Innes street and those side streets in the Downtown Area. Its beyond sad especially if you were from the area and witnessed what has happened to Salisbury over the years.

Downtown Salisbury has fallen off a cliff since I was a teenager when young people from the county used to cruise Main Street. Things were really happening down there. You’d see crowds of people shopping on Main. There were real retailers along Main Street–the place was alive. Now its like one of those Chinese ghost cities.

Why? Save for maybe Simply Good, Innes Street Drug, a few pricey gift shops and a handful of restaurants like Bangkok Downtown there is nothing much to attract people to Downtown. People go to the city’s actual chain big box stores out at Tinseltown or Jake or out of town to do their shopping. The days of brick and mortar are basically doomed by the internet with Amazon’s amazingly fast delivery. Downtown shuts down come nightfall because people fear going down there to get mugged, shot, knifed, or carjacked.

Kenny Hardin is right about City Hall and DSI Inc. overemphasizing the Downtown to the detriment of the rest of the city. It seems like there are no visible Black businesses on Main Street. Are they being excluded? Are Black business people being given the run around when they inquire about a storefront on Main or nearby? There were a few Black Businesses several years ago. Formez a convenience store that died for a lack of traffic. A boutique with an upstairs jazz and poetry spot that City Hall started to harass with code and licensing stuff. The woman who owned it was really angry when she closed and went back to Baltimore. There was a Jamaican Store on Innes and a Black owned boutique nearby. Both gone.

It’s a wonder any retailers or restaurants last a year down there. The rents and leases are sky high. If you approach some building owners from what I’m told you’ll get a runaround–some asking about the last 5 businesses you owned. Even if you are only planning to use the first floor only they’ll want you to pay for the upstairs and its upkeep is on you.

It’s hard to imagine any startup businesses breaking even down there even if they had prior business experience and have an airtight business plan. Why? You get the largest Municipal Services District Tax in the State to support a decrepit hotel. No place to park. No attractions. And the merchants tell me DSI is only going to promote one Friday Night Out a Month now?

It’s going to get rougher down there with people with spendable income moving out of the city and selling their digs at a loss.

Bohland was a howl on the Q and A she had with Kenny Hardin. She avoided answering his questions and made assertions she could not back up with data.

Seriously does anyone really believe the Empire is going to be developed for $20,000,000 by a developer who has not fully committed to signing on the dotted line? Merchants Downtown tell me that Mark Lewis is saying the Empire Hotel is a 10 year project?

Somebody needs to put up data about all the retailers who have come and gone since 2007. That would be an eye-opener.

Keep telling it like it is Kenny Hardin.

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