Plans for a redeveloped County Square were made public in May, when Greenville County reached a deal with RocaPoint Partners for what is one of the largest and most ambitious redevelopment plans in Greenville history.
Greenville Journal gave the community the first look at RocaPoint’s vision for the 37-acre site near downtown when it broke the news that the county had reached a deal with the company, more than a year after the proposals were received.
Now, Upstate Business Journal has obtained the proposals submitted by the five other developers: Fletcher Development and Carolina Holdings, Armada Hoffler Properties and CitiSculpt, Crosland Southeast and Northwood Ravin, East West Partners and Design Strategies, and Municipal Consolidation and Construction.
Among the ideas were moving Greenville County offices somewhere else, the construction of a tower that would pay homage to the Furman University bell tower that once occupied the site, and a collection of national retailers.
The winning $1.1 billion redevelopment plan includes a new $60 million glass-and-steel multistory county-government building at the corner of Church Street and University Ridge being designed by Foster + Partners, the architectural firm that designed Apple’s new headquarters, Apple Park, in California. The new county building will be paid for through land sales.
In addition, RocaPoint’s proposal calls for 1,125 units of multifamily housing, 450,000 square feet of retail space, 650,000 square feet of office space, and 350 hotel rooms. The mix may change depending on market demand.
Here are details of the other proposals.
Fletcher Development and Carolina Holdings
Fletcher Development and Carolina Holdings envisioned University Square as primarily serving a retail purpose with a complement of Class A residential and commercial uses.
“This is the last remaining opportunity in downtown Greenville to congregate a mass of national, regional, and local retailers that will support the sustained residential growth that has already occurred within the city limits,” the proposal said.
Office opportunities were incorporated into the plan but were ancillary to the primary objective of congregating retail to support the heart of downtown. The proposal said that while there were more than 4 million square feet of office space and more than 2,500 new residential units downtown, there was a dearth of large-scale retail uses.
“The city of Greenville has longed for more of a national retail presence downtown. However, the nature of the position of the anchors along Main Street lends itself to a long, linear stretch dominated by restaurants and local retailers,” the proposal said. The developers proposed targeting a theater, grocer, new-to-market anchor tenants, junior retailers, shops, and restaurants.
The developers believed county offices should not remain on the site. Instead, opportunities close to downtown should be pursued that would help revitalize other key corridors, save taxpayers money by using space more efficiently, and provide the development team a blank canvas to maximize value to Greenville County, the proposal said.
Armada Hoffler Properties and CitiSculpt
This proposal called for integrating personal rapid transit and the city’s trolleys into the redevelopment. Trolley stops and enclosures would have been incorporated into the site, and the developers urged that the number and frequency of the trolleys be increased because of an expected increase in traffic.
The development would have had a 1-acre commons with lawn and outdoor plaza, a veterans plaza that would contain existing monuments on County Square, and a green alleyway that would provide a buffer between new residential buildings and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. The plan also included pocket parks — small parks available to the public.
Hoffler Properties and CitiSculpt envisioned a mix of retail and fashion shopping brands not currently in downtown. In addition, the development would have included an entertainment venue, a 250-room hotel, 718,000 square feet of office, and 837 residential units.
The proposal said the development would require nearly 4,000 parking spaces at a cost of $112.7 million.
Crosland Southeast and Northwood Ravin
The companies called their proposal “one of the best we have ever put forth.”
“When they are at their best, urban infill developments like this one proposed are complex, multivalent — and improve over time,” the proposal said. “Unlike the singular uses that have preceded us on this site — each of which have had an expiration date — we see our proposal as an inevitable evolution of the patterns and scale of development that has occurred in the downtown area.”
It included integration of Falls Park and Greenville’s trail system into the development with additional green space for recreational use, a multiplex movie theater, 100,000 square feet of entertainment-oriented retail and restaurants, a specialty grocer, 293 units of brownstones, office space, an expansion opportunity for the Governor’s School, and potential for medical office space.
In addition, the proposal included 78 units of workforce housing.
East West Partners and DesignStrategies
In their proposal, East West Partners and DesignStrategies wanted to extend the success of downtown Greenville to University Ridge, not to create a new or competing downtown area or to design a place so distinctive in style that it bears no connection to downtown.
“For both of us, University Ridge will be our legacy project,” wrote Harry Frampton, chairman and founding father of East West Partners, and Ben Rook, chairman and CEO of DesignStrategies.
The plan included new office space for county administration, a diverse mix of housing stock that included an assisted- and independent-living facility, a Governor’s School expansion, boutique retail, and restaurants. It would have had a football-shaped common green space. The village green would have had a parking garage underneath.
However, the most unique aspect of the plan was a re-creation of the Furman bell tower, which would have stood in a roundabout just south of the center of the property on the precise location of Old Main’s original bell tower. The proposal called for the bell to ring hourly from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. just as the bell did in the Furman days to signal the start of classes and celebrate victories by athletic teams.
The developers envisioned donating a piece of land to the Governor’s School for a performing arts center that would be designed and built at cost.
Five to 10 percent of the development’s residential unit count would have been inclusionary housing.
Municipal Consolidation and Construction
Municipal Consolidation and Construction said sustainability is the essence of smart development, both financially and environmentally.
Its proposal called for green initiatives such as capturing surface runoff, or rainwater, before it reaches the Reedy River, creating a walkable development where cars would be a secondary mode of travel, using alternative forms of energy to build and power structures, and business incubators.
The development would have included a specialty grocery store, which would have been within walking distance of several residential neighborhoods.
The development would have a mix of residential, including affordable units, and space for county offices and Family Court.
Related Documents (pdf)