City of Salem makes land swap deal for historic downtown building

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SALEM (WSLS 10) – The city of Salem is now the proud owner of a historic building in the heart of downtown, thanks to a trade.

west-main-2 The building that was once home to the Old West Salem Body Shop has been vacant for more than a decade.

Because of its size, location and historic significance, the city of Salem has been eyeing the property for several years. Now thanks to a land swap with its owner, the building will soon belong to the city.

Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess said the site is a big piece of the larger picture for downtown Salem.

“We’ve been thinking about it for probably three or four years, and about what we want the downtown to be,” Boggess said. “As we identified buildings and potential redeveloping downtown, this West Salem Body Shop is always been high on the list.”

Built in the 1920s, pieces of real estate like the one located on 8 West Main Street are hard to come by.

Complete with original timber wood flooring, brick and even unique tin walls, Boggess said the possibilities for the 15,000-square-foot building are endless.

“It lends itself to so many potewest-main-4ntial things, whether it’s a brew pub, a boutique hotel or even residential here in downtown. Any of those things we could see fitting into this building,” Boggess said.

One of its most unique features inside is the original elevator once used to lower cars from the second floor to the first when it was an auto shop. It’s still very much in working order.

“We are valuing the potential and the partnerships to make this a great asset to downtown Salem,” Boggess said.

Boggess said the city and the current owner Richard Bishop, who owns multiple properties in Salem agreed on a trade for the building.west-main-1

Under the land-swap agreement, the owner received two pieces of property unusable to the city.

One is a two acre property next to the Salem Civic Center at 113 Corporate Blvd. The other Is a roughly 14-acre site where the former water plant sits.

Despite the difference in land size, Boggess said the amount of money it would take to make both properties usable would be too expensive.

“Really we looked at return,” Boggess said. “We looked at liability at the other property. The water plant has to have a large demolition done, so it reduces the value. Even though its assessed at $1 million, it’s true value is much less than that because the building itself can’t be reused, so it’s going to have to be torn down,” Boggess said.

The estimate to demolish the building is between $200,000 and $400,000.

It’s a deal Boggess said is well worth it for the potential business that could be brought to Salem.

The property transfer will be final in December. Boggess said they already have several private parties interested in the building.

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