County votes to negotiate with developer over County Square

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Greenville County officials voted to begin negotiating with a developer about the planned remaking of County Square. But they’re not disclosing the name of the developer, saying they have yet to conclude negotiations.

The county earlier this year solicited proposals from developers for remaking the prominent downtown property that has been the county’s main base of operations for 30 years.

Six development teams responded, and later the county scratched three of them off the list.

On Monday, Aug. 14, members of County Council met behind closed doors to decide which of three developers to start negotiating with.

Joining them in the meeting were two officials from the city of Greenville that are part of an “evaluation team” — City Manager John Castile and Deputy City Manager Nancy Whitworth.

After a discussion in private, County Council members returned to open session and voted to begin negotiations with a certain developer, referring to the firm only as developer C.

They agreed to move to developer B if negotiations with developer C were not successful, and then to developer A if negotiations with developer B were not successful.

County officials defended the unusual process by saying they are involved in negotiations over a contract. That’s one of the situations in which government officials are allowed to maintain secrecy under the Freedom of Information Act.

County officials say they have no particular deadline for concluding a redevelopment deal.

The county first began talking about turning County Square over for redevelopment more than a decade ago but never struck a deal.

The property of nearly 38 acres is high ground within walking distance of Falls Park, Fluor Field, and the Swamp Rabbit Trail and is highly desirable for real estate development.

In soliciting development bids in January, county officials instructed developers to include in their proposals a plan for building a 250,000-square-foot office building to house county operations in place of the former shopping center where they are housed now. They also asked for a 1,000-space parking garage to be included in the development proposals.

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