The Hartness family sets out to create the South’s ‘next great neighborhood’
In the rolling meadows of eastern Greenville County, where groves of pecan trees have grown for generations, a new vision is taking place.
It’s that of the Hartness family, which has a storied Upstate business history. Today, the family hopes the development of 400 acres off Pelham and Garlington roads and S.C. Highway 14 will become part of the Hartness legacy.
The first phase of a new development, known as Hartness, will include about 40 acres and 105 homesites for estate, carriage and manor homes and townhomes. Those will be joined by a village center with a couple of buildings for at least one restaurant and some retail space with offices above.
Homes ranging from $400,000 to about $1 million will be situated within a short walk of restaurants, coffee shops, specialized retail and small businesses.
“It’s really eventful in my family’s life that after 40 years of collecting land, and buying what you could that was near you, we have the opportunity to do something very special,” said Pat Hartness, who with his sons, Sean and David, and others will oversee the development.
The initial phase, including lots and homes, will amount to $65 million to $75 million in retail sales, excluding commercial buildings, village center projects and infrastructure, said Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Real Estate.
The first four phases will include 400 homesites and up to 150,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and office space, he said.
Residential retail sales could exceed $500 million if the planned seven phases of development occur, according to officials with the family’s real estate arm.
The new development will be near 250 leased cottage homes off Garlington Road that are known as Homestead at Hartness, where no changes are planned.
The proposal for the new village calls for retaining acreage for the green space, which will include 15 miles of walkable trails to connect neighbors to woodlands, lakes, streams, wildlife and shared recreational areas.
“I like to tell people that the green space that we have will be larger than Cleveland Park [in Greenville], which it will,” said Sean Hartness.
“Our desire is to provide the Upstate with a beautifully designed, pedestrian-friendly community that encourages chance social interaction and ample opportunity for enjoying outdoor recreation,” said David Pisano, vice president of sales and marketing for Hartness Real Estate.
The new development has cleared the county’s land-use entitlement process. Trees are being cleared and ground breaking for the development should be in about three weeks. Contracts for lots will be taken in February and home construction should start by next April or May, Sean Hartness said.
Andrea Cooper, executive director of Upstate Forever, said Hartness and her Greenville-based conservation organization have had several conversations about the family’s project.
“It’s a good development, in general, in that he’s trying to cluster the homes and allow for open green space and allow for some property to be undeveloped for some habitat and water quality,” Cooper said. “It’s going to be something that we can point to and say ‘This is something that other developers, if they chose to do so, they could do and they could talk to Sean.'”
The family looks east
Pat Hartness is the patriarch of the family that owns the land along with the adjacent industrial site that since 1940 has manufactured packaging equipment and conveyors for bottling and material handling. He sculpted the Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff from a bare field and changed it into an acclaimed aviation facility.
His father, Tom Hartness, purchased the Pepsi Bottling rights in Greenville. Over the next 60 years, the company evolved as a total packaging solutions provider with more than 100 patents and installations throughout the world.
Although Illinois Tool Works acquired Hartness International in 2009, the Hartness family still owns the building and land.
Forty years ago, Greenville didn’t extend this far into the county’s eastern reaches. “There was no real reason to be buying rural farmland,” Pat Hartness, now 75, said. “But thinking that Greenville may expand this direction, it’s worked out well.”
As Greenville was growing, he and his father flew a Piper Cub aircraft over the Roper Mountain area, where homes were just beginning to be built.
“I like to tell people that the green space that we have will be larger than Cleveland Park, which it will.”
– Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Real Estate
“It just looked pretty logical that Greenville was going to be moving toward the east,” Pat Hartness said. “We pontificated a little about whether it would ever get that far in a lifetime. Fortunately, we continued to purchase as we moved along. Even when the land was less expensive, we bought some. But even as it got more expensive we could see that it was probably the right thing to do.”
He added, “Sometimes you want to protect or want to get what you can when it’s the right time. So you maybe take a little gamble that it will turn out.”
There have been many conversations in recent years about developing the property, Hartness family members admit. They talked to several developers, including The Cliffs’ Jim Anthony.
They also talked to the late Champ Covington, one of the primary developers of the Thornblade community, for his advice and counsel.
No deals were struck and the family held on to the land.
“Instead of bringing other partners from the outside in, we really decided as a family the property is a legacy piece of property,” Sean Hartness said. “We really wanted to set a new standard for the Upstate and the region for a new urban type of development, a walkable development, a development where you could live, you could work, you could recreate on the property. And we just didn’t want to leave that up to other people.”
A life-cycle community
“Hartness will embody the ideal hamlet-classic architecture, great urbanism, a pedestrian network that is celebrated over that of cars, inserted next to a mature nature preserve,” said Lew Oliver, Hartness community designer. “This will form one of the next great neighborhoods in the South, providing a nurturing community for all who inhabit it.”
Oliver is an Atlanta-based urbanist, master planner and designer, whose work has won numerous national and international awards.
The Hartness family looked at his Vickery project near Atlanta as well as the I’On mixed-use neighborhood in Mount Pleasant that Sean Hartness said represents a “gold standard” in development.
Other impressive projects include Habersham, an award-winning coastal community in Beaufort, S.C., and Seaside in the Florida panhandle, Hartness said.
Eighty to 85 percent of the homesites in the new Hartness development will front green space in the first phase of the new development, he said.
“What we’re creating is an opportunity for multiple demographics to live in this community,” he said. “We’re really creating a life-cycle community, where if you move in with a young family into a cottage and then you ultimately want to build your dream home, which could be an estate or manor home, and then you get a little bit older and you say, ‘Gosh, the kids have moved away, gone to college,’ you could scale back down to a single-level cottage.”
The development will be for residents “to age in place,” Hartness said.
In considering the eastside development, Pat Hartness said he and his wife, Mary Lou, looked at the residential growth occurring rapidly in downtown Greenville and measured their thought process “on seeing the 2,000 new condos” being built there, particularly for millennials.
“Are we really goofing up trying to do this out here?” he said they asked themselves.
“I don’t think so,” he answered.