Which way to…? Council agrees to Business Enhancement signs

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Meg Hibbert Contributing writer

Salem City Council has agreed for the city to order directional street signs in Downtown Salem that could point the way to nearby businesses who pay for the advertising.

The consensus came at the Sept. 25 Council Work Session before the regular meeting. Assistant City Manager Jay Taliaferro gave a report on the future Business Enhancement Signs council members saw as a mock-up in August. The signposts look like a classy version of those on the television show “M.A.S.H” which pointed toward hometowns of the mobile hospital staff.

Businesses can soon start signing up to pay $300 each per year for up to two directional signs on the free-standing sign posts that would be placed next to crosswalks at O’Brien’s Meats, the Blue Apron restaurant and at the top of the hill on Main Street, Taliaferro said. They would also probably be placed on College, Market and Broad to point the way to city locations, such as City Hall, and businesses.

Sign-up streets for businesses will be open for a month, Taliaferro said.

Also at the Sept. 25 work session, the four Councilmembers present agreed with the idea of purchasing 69 heavy-duty trashcans for downtown Salem, at an expected price of $850 each.

That came after a report by Mike Tyler, director of the city’s Street & General Maintenance Department. Council had seen a suggested design for the black-enamel steel cans a month ago.

Thirty of the cans would be downtown and some would replace less-sturdy ones at Lake Spring Park and other downtown intersections. Mike Tyler also mentioned possibly replacing 16 cans at bus stops, placing cans at Longwood Park and Salem City Hall, the Salem Museum and the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce.

Cans would be paid for out of $48,633 Finance Director Rosie Jordan located in unspent city money in a contingency fund, Jordan said. Purchase of those particular cans is contingent on if the demonstration model from a certain company comes in and is what the city asked for, Taliaferro added.

Both the signs and the trash cans fit in the City of Salem Downtown Streetscape project for which the city has Phase I grant money on the east end of Salem’s Main Street

In answer to Councilmember James Martin asking for updates on particular business’ plans in the city, City Manager Kevin Boggess gave the following report at Sept. 25 work session:

  • Staybridge Suites and Bruno’s restaurant at Salem Civic Center– More than a year after Salem City Council agreed to sell 6.5 acres next to the Salem Civic Center for a hotel and restaurant, Boggess said funding said is in place for Staybridge Suites and Bruno’s restaurant. “Groundbreaking would probably be the around the first of December,” Boggess said, and “construction would begin a few months afterward.” The firms have 18 months to complete construction, according to terms of the sale by the city.
  • Lidle grocery store– Lidl grocery store “has finally closed on the property the first of September,” Boggess said. The discount grocery chain from Germany will be located next to Lowe’s on West Main Street. Boggess said the lease for Lowe’s would not allow Lidl’s to be set in front of the home supply store. First, empty buildings formerly used by Mason Mechanery and Pine Ridge Nursery have to be demolished, the city manager said. “Once demolition starts, work on the site should go very quickly,” Boggess said. There are no leases announced yet for the Main Street portion of the acreage, Boggess said, in answer to a question from Councilmember Jim Chisom.
  • ElRodeo restaurant – soil and erosion bonds have been issued in August for work on the new site for El Rodeo restaurant on West Main Street. Boggess said it his understanding that the family who owns El Rodeo plans to do the construction and it would start and stop for a while.
  • Angelle’s Diner– The site plan has been approved, Boggess said, for renovations to the current Omlet Shoppe that will become Angelle’s Diner shortly after the first of the year. Renovations to the Salem landmark are expected to take three or four months, Boggess said.
  • Former West Salem Body Shop– The easement with Wells Fargo has been ironed out, Boggess said, which will allow Live Oak Partners to place windows on that side of the building. “That will make the (planned) apartments easier to rent,” he added. Kahn, who owns the adjacent Ridenhour Music building, has said because of projects he is working on in North Carolina, it will be a year before he can focus on plans for the former music store building, Boggess said. He added that Kahn is not interested in selling the building.
  • Former BTO frozen yogurt shop– Boggess said Snyder’s Nursing Home has the lease on the two-year-vacant BTO yogurt shop at the corner of West Main and Broad. Although the city’s economic development and planning department has been working on the project, there are no immediate plans on what business might go there next.
  • Olde Salem Brewery– Sean Turk and the group of owners are ahead of schedule with renovations to the former Tarpley-Mac building, and “now it looks like he may be able to have a grand opening celebration in November,” Boggess said. Craft brewing equipment was moved into the building Friday of last week. “Sean has done a fantastic job with that building,” Boggess said. “He is happy to show it off. You will not recognize the inside.” When the doors were open last week during the equipment move last week, passersby could see the small white ceiling light displays, bar location and sports TVs mounted on the walls.

As a capital improvements report, Boggess said Parkway Brewing has ordered the equipment for which the state of Virginia and City of Salem have provided matching capital funds for expansion of Salem’s first commercial brewery, which is located on Kesler Mill. “It was great how quickly the city responded with its match,” Councilmember Martin said.