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Hospitality and Tourism

Peace Center in Greenville plans major renovation for music

Hospitality and Tourism
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Peace Center President and CEO Megan Riegel  said The Mockingbird will attract acts that don't want to perform in a theater setting. (Image/Craig Gaulden Davis)The Peace Center today announced plans to make Greenville a bigger dot on the map of music cities.

Peace Center President and CEO Megan Riegel on Sept. 13 unveiled a major renovation project designed to diversify Greenville’s live music scene by diversifying possible venues for musical artists and music fans. Called AMP, for A Music Project, the plan calls for a new purpose for three buildings on the Peace Center campus that will include a flat floor music club, an intimate listening room, a podcast and recording studio, and artist dorms.

The intent of the $36 million project is to deliver a larger variety of live music options in Greenville. By repurposing what the Peace Center considered underused real estate and providing new mission-centric programming, the venue can continue to meet the needs of the community and help Greenville become a more vibrant music town, Riegel said.

The most visible addition will be two news venues for live music: one is an intimate café-style setting for small audiences and the other is a three-tier flat-floor music venue to attract the acts and the fans who prefer the up-close, standing-room experience.

“Believe it or not there are some acts that do not want to play the concert hall, right? They want to be in a room with a mosh pit. They want to be in a room where people are on their feet and having a good ol’ time,” Riegel said at a press event today. “Different artists thrive in different spaces and so what we’ve created is this variety of spaces to serve a variety of artists and a variety of audiences.”

She said the public for years has told her Greenville needs more spaces for those performances.

Plans include accommodations for visiting performers. (Image/Craig Gaulden Davis)“We’ve listened carefully to what our community says it wants regarding live entertainment,” Riegel said in the announcement. “These new venues will complete the circle of our live music scene and attract a whole new range of artists and visitors to Greenville. People have been waiting for this for a long time.”

She said AMP is an important step in fulfilling the Peace Center’s central vision to build the local music scene, create connections and expand the reach of the performing arts in the South.

“AMP is the Peace Center’s answer to the Upstate’s hunger for more live music,” Riegel said in a news release. “By repurposing existing real estate assets on our campus into mission-centric music venues, we will broaden the Peace Center’s scope of live entertainment offerings and allow more people than ever before to experience the arts.”

Once complete, the project will effectively achieve the Peace Center’s longstanding goal of realizing a fully-functioning, 10-venue arts and entertainment campus by or before 2030.

Building designs for AMP were developed by Greenville architecture firm Craig Gaulden Davis with landscape design from the Greenville studio of MKSK. CGD designed the original Peace Center campus that opened in 1990 and has extensive renovation design experience with historic buildings, a primary reason they were chosen for AMP, the news release said.

Construction is expected to begin in February 2023 and is estimated for completion in late 2024.

The five projects that make up AMP are:

The Mockingbird

A nod to Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café, The Mockingbird will be a listening room inside the historic Gullick and Markley buildings on Main Street next to the Gunter Theatre. It is described as “a casual, intimate, lounge-like setting (that) will create a space for artists and their audiences to connect in close, personal ways.”

The main entrance will face Main Street with the listening room on the street level. The interior is designed will blend modern elements with traditional features, such as exposed brick walls, punched tin ceiling panels and hardwood floors. Except for new windows and doors, minimal exterior renovations are planned, the release said. The existing tan brick of the Gullick and red brick of the Markley will remain largely untouched, ensuring both buildings retain their historic character and charm.

Coach Music Factory

The historic Coach Factory flanking the east side of the Peace Amphitheater will be repurposed into a three-tiered, standing room live music club for national and local acts. Peace Center operators say the club will feature a broad group of musical genres such as hip hop, indie rock, country, jam bands, Americana and more. The Coach Music Factory will have a club vibe to satisfy serious live music lovers, and the size, acoustics, lighting and other technical aspects that today’s professional touring musicians demand, the news release stated. It will be designed to be similar to The Orange Peel in Asheville and the Fillmore in Charlotte.

Artist Dorms

The space directly above The Mockingbird will become a three-bedroom suite for the use of artists performing at any Peace Center venue. The artist dorms will accommodate performers who want a bit of privacy from their public life on the road or a convenient place to stay before or after their gig. This fully furnished, 3-bed/3.5-bath suite will feature modern baths, a living area and kitchen with views of Main Street and the Reedy River.

The Studio

The space next to the artist dorms will be turned into a professional podcast and recording studio. Managed and operated by the Peace Center, the studio will be available for booking by artists who want high quality, professional recording, mixing, editing and related audio services. It also provides the Peace Center opportunities to produce original content, the release said.

Wyche Landscape Design

A final element of the AMP program is to elevate the Wyche outdoor event space with distinctive environmental landscaping.

“Using natural foliage and re-routing pathways leading to and from the open-air structure, the Wyche will take new root in a garden-like setting,” the release said. “Designed as an extension of beautiful Falls Park just a stone’s throw away, a river terrace running the length of the Wyche will provide pedestrians an attractive walkway overlooking the banks of the Reedy River. ADA-compliant semi-circular paths will provide easy access into either side of the building with subtle landscape lighting to illuminate the way and create a peaceful ambiance.”

The Peace Center is a six-acre campus downtown that currently consists of the 2,115-seat Peace Concert Hall, 400-seat Gunter Theatre, an outdoor amphitheater and a number of event spaces including the iconic Wyche building and the Huguenot Mill. The expansion will mean an undetermined number of new jobs, Riegel said. The Peace Center currently has 48 full-time employees.

Reigel said a new study of the Peace Center's value to the community places the economic impact at $80 million, annually.

Read more details about the Peace Center places in the  Sept. 19 edition of GSA Business Report.

Reach Ross Norton at 864-720-1222.

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