“Positive momentum” attracting retail, restaurant, office and residential attention, officials
The “Sparkle City” has been enjoying a downtown renaissance with more than 20 new businesses opening in 2013.
Retail is going strong in the central business district, and the city has also been successful in attracting new companies to the city. According to Brian Nash, director of business development with the Spartanburg Economic Futures Group, Spartanburg has received more than $1.6 billion in capital improvement and seen the creation of 5,943 new jobs since 2009.
Spartanburg County also has four new speculative industrial projects either under construction or in the design phase, said Nash. All four are being funded by private developers “who realize the opportunity and value in bringing speculative industrial buildings to market,” he said.
“No other county in S.C. has this level of privately funded speculative development in the pipeline,” he said. “We are proud of that because we’ve worked very hard to recruit this type of development to Spartanburg.”
Pure Barre, a fast-growing fitness franchise, built its training facility downtown earlier this year. The new facility serves as the eastern training center and the company’s headquarters.
The owner of Cribb’s Kitchen opened The Speakeasy, a classic 1920s-inspired bar, complete with Prohibition-era cocktails, fine wines and rare ales. Chef William Cribb also just opened his third restaurant, Willy Taco, a Mexican cocina on Main Street.
Wild Ace Pizza and Pub opened its second location (the first one is in Greer) in Morgan Square, and local favorite Renato’s Italian Restaurant has plans to relocate into an expanded space in downtown Spartanburg.
Dottie’s Toffee, a family-run confectioner, moved into new digs on Spring Street. The company sells toffee worldwide in retailers like Dean and DeLuca and Whole Foods.
Retailers have also been moving into downtown Spartanburg with Olive and Then Some, an olive oil retailer; Herbal Renewal, a medicinal herbs store; the Growler Haus, a craft beer store; and The Greene Canary, a prom, pageant and wedding gown store, all opening up shop in the past few months.
Only a few new downtown residential options have popped up so far. Magnolia Street Lofts has 27 units in the old Oregon Hotel, and the Schuyler Building Apartments is getting a multimillion makeover with 88 units currently under construction. Sixteen new townhomes, called 314 South Townhomes, are also under construction near the Mary Black Rail Trail.
New service-oriented and white-collar businesses are bringing in younger professionals said Patty Bock, economic development director for the city of Spartanburg. “We’ve got the ball rolling, and there is positive momentum that is helping to attract more local and outside interest in the retail, restaurant, office and residential sectors.”
Bock emphasized the city isn’t “doing this alone. We have to applaud our existing businesses that have continued to work their tails off day and night to provide the services and needs of our downtown visitors, residents and workforce. They are partners in making our city as a success.”
Bock also praised the city’s educational institutions for sticking with downtown.
“USC Upstate, VCOM, Spartanburg Community College, Wofford College and Converse College have each made significant investments in the past five years,” she said. “This, coupled with private and public partnerships in the downtown, have all contributed to laying the groundwork for what is to come.”
Bock said that the city’s creative and innovative programs such as the Main Street Challenge, seasonal ice rink and 90-foot Wheel of Lights and Inspiration (WOLI) Ferris wheel continue to attract those who are curious and maybe haven’t been to downtown in a while.
“When they get here, it’s even greater than what they expected,” she said.