The city of Greenville in the upstate region of South Carolina has undergone a renaissance from a former world textile capital to a city becoming a model in sustainablitiy development. It had experienced a major loss of population and employment opportunities as large retailers and services were fleeing to suburbs leaving behind numerous vacant and dilapidated industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. It is now a premier location for a mixture of office, retail and residential space with amenities that encourage corporate headquarters and major manufacturing facilities to move to the area.
In the late 1970s, a streetscape plan caused Main Street to become a safer, pleasant, tree-lined pedestrian-friendly cityscape. Greenville Commons made up of a Hyatt Regency hotel, convention center, stores, parking and a public park began the downtown rebirth. The Peace Center for the Performing Arts complex arrived in the 1990s. Abandoned brick buildings were transformed into lofts, artist studios, restaurants and other small businesses like the Lofts and Shops at Mills Mill. To maintain the homey feel in downtown, city planners worked to attract independent businesses rather than chain franchises. Greenville experienced its first intercensus population growth from 2000 to 2010.
In that decade, the city partnered with the EPA brownfields program to solve environmental issues deterring redevelopment by assessing and cleaning up hazardous properties with high development potential. Underground storage tank (UST) sites were replaced with Reedy Place, a $1.3 million home for chronically homeless, in West Greenville in 2006 and the $67 million Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center replaced a West Greenville vacant service station.
Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) were done on several sections of the Swamp Rabbit Trail which follows a railroad line along the Reedy River originally built in the 1890s but abandoned in 1993. Finding contamination from creosote-treated railroad ties in the ESAs, the ties and some soil were removed and major trail sections paved on the old Swamp Rabbit line. After $7.4 million was invested by the city with $1.6 million in federal and state grants and some income from selling steel rails and railroad ties, the trail opened in 2006. It represents the best economic use of floodplains and floodways along the Reedy River.
The suspension Liberty Bridge was built across the Reedy River to link walking/biking trails through downtown. Greenville along with private developers invested over $65 million in RiverPlace properties to construct 9 commercial and residential buildings and a 100-room hotel. After Falls Park on the Reedy was completed, demand for nearby condominiums and retail space exploded, with such popular high-end and moderately priced units being auctioned off at preconstruction.
The Greenville Drive, a Boston Red Sox “A” League minor-league baseball team, made its home at the new West End Field built with the same dimensions as Fenway Park. The BiLo Center holds a 17,000-seat arena, and The Pinnacle on Main offers a mix of office, retail and residential space with amenities.
The 14-acre development of McBee Station includes apartments, lofts, condos, a Publix supermarket, Staples, other stores and restaurants. A planned luxury Peacock Hotel & Spa at the corner of McBee Avenue and Spring Street became the four-story 55 unit 98 E. McBee apartments with rent ranges from roughly $1,300 to $1,500. It made use of existing roughly $8 million worth of infrastructure by building on the foundation and pillars originally meant for the hotel.
Corporations are coming to the area again adding more jobs. Hubbell Lighting opened its new headquarters in Greenville with a green building. Michelin Tire Corp. built its largest manufacturing plant and North American headquarters in the area. In Greenville county, Datran is investing $5 million at its U.S. automotive operations, plastic packaging manufacturer Sealed Air Corp. is adding a customer service center, Cytec Industries Inc. is building a new facility and, the organic food maker Amy’s Kitchen purchased the 120,000-square-foot former Sara Lee plant.
Real estate is still reasonable in the area. The median sale price for an existing single-family home in the Greenville area is $195,925, compared to the national median of $299,277 according to the National Association of Realtors. For a list of commercial buildings for sale in Greenville County currently ranging from $99,500 for 6000 sq ft to $14,600,000 for 41,1127 sq ft view the Loopnet website.