Saturday, October 17, 2015
Index Journal, Colin Riddle
Greenwood’s Uptown is experiencing a resurgence, bringing new restaurants, shops and investment to the once industrial-centric hub, where trains used to barrel down the middle of Main Street.
The city continues to invest into new streetscapes and cornerstones in Uptown in an effort to promote growth.
City Manager Charlie Barrineau said the city is continuing to invest in Uptown — including adding more benches, trees, flowers, paths and lights — to make it more appealing and bring more people to the Uptown area.
Uptown is among the largest tax bases in the county, Barrineau said, has infrastructure in place and plenty of room for growth.
“There’s no reason not to continue to build upon those successes,” Barrineau said.
Uptown’s resurgence started when local leaders raised $3.5 million to renovate the Federal Building, which now serves as the Arts and Visitors Center, and create a cultural hub for Uptown.
The city used a matching grant from the state to improve the facades along Maxwell Avenue and started investing in new streetscapes, including the next project at Magnolia and Riley avenues.
Those improvements led real estate developer and consultant Tim Burke to purchase the Textile Building at 332 Main St., the six-story building next to Howard’s on Main, he is turning into retail space and luxury flats.
“I just thought it was the right timing with the city’s commitment with the streetscapes and farmers market,” Burke said of his decision.
Maxwell and Oregon avenues will welcome the Uptown Market early next year with construction already underway, adding another cornerstone to Uptown.
“You’re wanting to create a sense of place downtown where people want to be and invest,” Barrineau said. “You want to make it where investing, spending money in a building is not even questioned. All those amenities play a role in encouraging private investment.”
Uptown Manager Laura Ackerman said the cornerstones, along with the unique events, are bringing more people to Uptown.
“People are starting to see the big picture and joining in our effort,” she said. “Uptown Greenwood is continually growing. More and more people are coming to Uptown.”
Ackerman said the Uptown Greenwood Development Corporation established a loan pool to help with initial investment, which usually comes with a lower interest rate than other financing options.
The Textile Building will offer 15 luxury flats, which can be customized to the owner’s liking — “Anything you want,” Burke said.
Burke said the flats, which include the upper floors and the three units facing Main Street, will cost in the $250,000-$300,000 range and should hit the market soon.
The building has three retail spaces on the first floor, with two spaces already filled. Sugar Boutique moved from Waller Avenue and The Frilly Frog moved from the Barksdale Building, which is owned by Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams, who is a real estate lawyer.
VOILA! Bridal & Formal, currently at 207 Waller Ave., is moving into Barksdale, which is at the corner of Main Street and Waller, to take The Frilly Frog’s location.
On the other side of Main Street, the Textile Building’s two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath flats overlook a recently renovated Howard’s, which will welcome a new neighbor at 322 Main St. — Buenavista Cuban Cafe.
A block away at the corner of Main Street and Maxwell Avenue, renovations are underway on the Greenwood Building’s first floor for retail space, totaling a little more than 2,000 square feet.
On the other side of Uptown, another cornerstone was recently revived — the Inn on the Square — and is seeing some early success with booked meeting space and no vacancies during key weekends, such as Greenwood’s two festivals and golf tournaments.
There are still vacant buildings Uptown waiting for new life, including properties along Main Street and Maxwell and Waller avenues.
The city purchased the vacant building next to The Museum, referred to as the Pals Building, in 2008 to protect the work that was underway at The Museum, Greenwood Community Theatre and Arts Center, Barrineau said. The Pals building and The Museum share a wall.
The city is looking for the right tenant, but has no timetable for the building, Barrineau said, adding that it could become a theater expansion or a new studio.
Two bank-affiliated properties sit empty near the city’s next streetscape project on Riley and Magnolia avenues — the old Bank of America building and the first floor of Countybank’s building next to the bank.
Countybank’s building next to the bank on the plaza sat empty along Court Avenue before being renovated to house the executive offices on the second floor a few years ago.
Bill Jenkins, vice president of marketing at Countybank, said they plan to use the first-floor space as the company continues to grow, however there are no immediate plans for development.
Near the courthouse, an office building at 120 Court was recently renovated in anticipation of potential growth in the area.
The SC Works Center’s former location off Monument Avenue is also available after the employment agency moved to the GLEAMNS Human Resources complex.
Ackerman said the UGDC’s goal is to continue to fill stores and market existing ones to bring people into the shops.
Efforts are also underway to promote what Ackerman calls a hidden charm in Waller Avenue, tucked off the main drag and featuring historic brick streets. She said Christmas lights will be hung year round to draw people to that area of Uptown.