This editorial written by Brad Gillis was originally published in The Salisbury Independent.
When we look at an unfinished puzzle, the spots where pieces are missing stare back at us. We become determined to find the missing pieces that fit perfectly into the open spaces in order to make the image complete. In the world of real estate development, that same puzzle becomes the next challenge/project and ultimately the solution — just on a much larger scale.
Developers are searching for those empty spaces, referred to as “infill sites.” Infill sites are typically located closer to the center of a community and are already served by public infrastructure including roads, water and sewer lines. Infill development takes vacant or under-used parcels within existing urban areas that are already largely developed, whereas infill “Re”-development is adaptively repurposing a building or property into something useful. Both have many benefits including the following:
- Reducing consumption of forest and agricultural land
- Increased access of people to jobs, and jobs to labor force
- Reduces time, money, energy, and air pollution associated with commuting and other use of single occupant automobiles
- Strengthens real estate markets and property values
- Makes better use of existing infrastructure and lowers costs of public services such as: transit, sidewalks, water and sewer, school, and public safety (police, fire, ambulance)
- Replaces brownfields and abandoned industrial areas with functioning assets
- Adds to socioeconomic diversity
There are numerous examples of infill development and redevelopment on Delmarva. You may pass them on a regular basis without realizing the impact they have on local infrastructure, business development and the local economy.
Headquarters Live, downtown Salisbury’s newest entertainment venue was home to Fire Station 16 until it moved almost a decade ago. 115 South Division Street, a 1920’s construction, sat vacant for many years until the City of Salisbury decided to seize the opportunity to breathe new life into the historic building. Devreco had its own ideas about what belonged in the Old Fire House. After going door to door, business to business they discovered the community shared their interests. Devreco responded to the public’s request to transform the building into a music venue / performing arts space.