Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
SC Biz News

Real Estate - Commercial

Final proposal unveiled for downtown Greenville Gateway Project

Real Estate - Commercial
  • Share

An early rendering of the project shows pedestrian-friendly areas, retail and entertainment opportunities surrounding the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and the proposed site. (Photo/Provided)A project years in the making that reimagines a crucial entryway to downtown Greenville could be closer to becoming a reality.

After two years of planning and collaboration with residents, elected officials, business leaders and designers, PlusUrbia Design of Miami presented the final proposal for the Greenville Gateway Project on Tuesday.

“This is just a vision, a planning project at this time,” said PlusUrbia Principal Juan Mullerat.

The project will be designed with the mindset of reimagining and reinvesting into downtown Greenville’s gateway from Interstate 385.

A multi-year process and billions of dollars will incorporate community-based goals into a framework plan that will create a unified vision for public and private investments within this unique and often overlooked corridor that serves as the “front door” to downtown Greenville.

The process and implementation will be directed by PlusUrbia Design, a boutique design studio that specializes in value creation through community revitalization and design with assistance and input from elected officials, businesses, property owners, local planning agencies, and other stakeholders.

The designer’s main goals with the project are to improve the quality of life for residents, workers, and visitors in joining the city’s efforts to be more equitable, revitalize and improve this district in creating a signature gateway into downtown Greenville, provide more housing and job opportunities closer to downtown, protect the Pettigru Historic District and enhance East North Street and surrounding area, propose ways to improve safe and equitable mobility within the neighborhood and connectivity, and revitalize the Bon Secours Arena and the county’s civic land as part of a unified district vision.

“Some things work well here and there are some things that don’t,” said Mullerat. “This gateway is what greets you when you arrive to downtown, and currently, the first thing that hits you is a sign that says, ‘Freeway Ends.’ We are looking at it as an outsider.”

The Gateway District averages 54,000 vehicles traveling along East North Street every day, which is more than any other entrance to Greenville, Mullerat added.

“This needs to be another area that feeds to the excitement that is Greenville,” he said. “It needs to be a part of Greenville’s history of reinvestment. We want drivers to feel that they have to slow down to see it from when they enter downtown.”

Greenville Mayor Knox White said the city’s focus is public safety and improvement of infrastructure around the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

“It’s not safe or attractive currently,” he said.

PlusUrbia is looking for a balance of private and public realm spaces such as renovated and new office buildings and residential properties as well as more parks and better public streets, including expanding sidewalks.

White said the city is currently collaborating with a party on the old auditorium site already and believes it will be a “huge catalyst” for starting this reinvestment project.

“Once the auditorium site gets the green light, you will start to see some big changes on the gateway to North Street and the surrounding area,” he said. “This project will give people a reason to go to their events early and stay late, much like we have done around the baseball stadium.”

Pieces of the project is anticipated to be completed within the next year or two, said White.

The project will be broken up into sections to create ease and organization of its progress, said Dylan Gehring, PlusUrbia planner. The sections are:

  • East North Boulevard, which will focus on mobility i.e., downtown transition area, area gateway plaza freeway transition area.
  • Pettigru Neighborhood, which will focus on introducing gentle density i.e., the solution to create more housing options, more transitional office buildings, capitalize on topography due to the 20-feet drop from the boulevard to Pettigru.
  • Pettigru Historic, which will focus on putting up more ancillary dwelling units behind houses that could possibly be rented out, offering more affordable housing close to downtown.
  • Entertainment District, which will focus on the area between the arena and where the Law Enforcement Center is currently. This will be a partnership with the city and county that’ll happen over time. Picture a small-scale version of The Battery in Atlanta or the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. This area will be designed to cater not to just those who are going to the arena but to whoever wants entertainment.

“We want to activate these spaces to make the most of what’s already currently there,” said Gehring. “There are a lot of vacant lots, what we call missing teeth. We need to reinvest in infrastructure that reflects our vision moving forward, creating an experience that really blows your mind, so you don’t have to wait until you get to North Church Street before realizing you’re in a great city. We want to serve Greenville and make sure this is an integral part of the city along with the rest of it.”

The results from the Gateway District survey revealed the following results:

  • 68% of people would like to see more restaurants and cafes in the new district
  • 63% of people would like to see more public spaces
  • 46% of people asked for shaded residential streets in the Pettigru Neighborhood
  • 59% choose mixed-use mid-rise as the development type they envisioned for the future district
  • 53% prefer bicycling as travel between the Pettigru Neighborhood and downtown

Throughout several discussions between the design team, city officials, and residents involving the project, it is promised that the Pettigru District needs to be reinvested in while also being protected.

Another concern for Greenville residents is the traffic.

Mullerat said there has been talk about adding an extra turning lane to go onto Academy Street from North Street to flush out some of it.

“But that is a short-term solution,” he said. “The more you reinvest, the more you naturally get more traffic. We know this vision plan needs to include a more comprehensive study of traffic patterns. But the less you have to drive because things are closer to you, the less cars you will also have.”

The total cost of the project has yet to be determined, as it is still in the preliminary stages of planning, Mullerat said, but it is something that will cost billions over time.”

Cities can grow outward or grow from within, and Greenville has the opportunity to grow from within, he added.

“Greenville has been here before and reinvented, transformations are possible, and it’s not crazy to think East North Street can also be a destination.”

Reach Krys at 864-640-4418.

  • Share
Write a Comment

Subscribe to Our Digital Newsletters