By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY – A year after forming a committee to make a selection, the Empire Hotel Redevelopment Task Force announced on Tuesday the selection of a Charlotte-based developer to redesign the hotel with a luxury boutique feel .
In September 2020, the city ended exclusive negotiations with Black Point Investments for the Empire Hotel project, ongoing since 2016, after the company did not agree to a purchase price of $ 700,000 from the city. Downtown Salisbury Inc., which owns the property where the hotel is located, then formed a task force of nearly a dozen residents and local stakeholders. The working group issued a request for proposals in September 2020 and has since embarked on “a thorough and thorough evaluation process” to find a project design that is the “most economically viable” option for the center. -City of Salisbury, according to a press release from Salisbury Town Center. Inc.
The selected developer, Brett Krueger, has over 25 years of experience in construction and residential and commercial development. He was Vice President of Operations for MRK Investments, where he conceptualized and led the development of the nationally recognized Windsor Boutique Hotel in Asheville and The Ivey’s Hotel in Charlotte.
Krueger and its subsidiary Howard Kosofsky have offered to build around 40 apartments in the hotel, ranging from one to three bedrooms. The plan would also include a full-service spa, gym and health club in addition to 7,000 square feet of retail space and 6,000 square feet for a restaurant and historic hotel bar. The design is a “mix of boutique and antique designs where the past meets modern comfort,” DSI said in its press release.
Krueger also intends to have retail spaces that directly support and benefit artists and artistic growth. He wants to restore more than 20 hotel rooms in the hotel as well as the ballroom for the event space.
Krueger told The Post on Tuesday he was “humbled, thrilled and absolutely thrilled” with the decision. Its intention is to create a “living representation of the past, present and future of Salisbury”.
Krueger has already scheduled meetings with some local architects and contractors and created an email address for residents of the Salisbury area to contact him with any information or story they have about the Empire Hotel. Krueger can be contacted at [email protected]
“I would just like to tell so many people about what the building has meant to them, their families and the city,” Krueger said. “And I’m after all a piece of history if people are willing to donate, even on loan.”
The selection of the working group comes after months of deliberation on two final proposals. The other proposal came from Josh Barnhardt of Iron Horse Development, who partnered with Bill Greene of G2 Development, LLC and Justin Mueller of Sherwood Development Group to tackle different sections of the hotel in the hope to accelerate its completion. While the two design proposals were similar and included a mix of residential and commercial spaces, Barnhardt’s proposal included “townhouses,” which look like row houses without an elevator seen in other historic locations as well as ‘an additional apartment on the top floor. “Row houses” originated in Europe in the 16th century and consist of a row of terraced dwellings sharing side walls.
Barnhardt and his team’s concept also included the design of some Airbnb rentals, a grocery store for downtown residents, and a distillery.
Mayor Karen Alexander said the selected developer has a “tremendous vision committed to the redevelopment of this historic community asset.”
“Our downtown is the signature of our community and an economic generator,” said Alexander. “We look forward to taking the next steps with the chosen developer and their team assembled to make their vision a reality in downtown Salisbury. “
DSI, Krueger and the city are expected to enter into a preliminary development agreement to define any remaining issues before a final decision or sale.
The location of the hotel is in an area of opportunity and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the historic Salisbury district. It is classified as a local historic monument and is eligible for historical tax credits.
Whitney Wallace Williams, chair of the task force, said the decision was not easy.
“The Empire is a beast of project, but one that has the potential and the ability to transform our downtown and Rowan County experience for decades to come,” said Williams. “I express my gratitude to all the developers for their excellent contributions, especially the local developers in our community. I congratulate the members of the Empire Hotel Redevelopment Task Force for their objectivity, expertise, collaboration and passion for this essential part of downtown and the future of Salisbury.
DSI board chairman Gianni Moscardini said the team “examined this project at an altitude of 20,000 feet to assess the present and future economic and historical impact.”
In addition to Williams, Moscardini and Alexander, other members of the task force who made the selection include Salisbury Planning Director Hannah Jacobson, City Council Member and Banker Brian Miller, former educator Janine Evans, the philanthropist Ed Norvell, developer Luke Fisher, Rowan County Tourism Director James Meacham, Chairman of the Economic Development Commission Rod Crider, President of the Chamber of Commerce Elaine Spalding, Executive Director of the Historic Salisbury Foundation Sada Stewart, the downtown business owner Tonyan Schofield and ISD board members Samantha Haspel, Davis Cooke and Mark Lewis.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Janine Evans, a task force member and former educator, as “Janine Evans-Davis”, which is not her legal name. La Poste regrets this error.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.