GRC unveils final park plans for Monaghan Mill community

On Tuesday, Wil Brasington, board chair of the Greenville Revitalization Corporation, unveiled plans for the creation of a new park that will celebrate the textile mill history of Greenville County. Photo by Leland Outz.

After several years of planning, the Greenville Revitalization Corporation (GRC) has unveiled the final plans for the Textile Heritage Park, a 6-acre mixed-use park that aims to celebrate the textile history of Greenville County.

The park, which is going to be located on the old Monaghan Mill parking lot and across the street from the Lofts of Greenville, will feature a walking trail with 12 alcoves dedicated to the history of various Upstate mills.

“Once constructed, this new park is going to enhance the Monaghan community and help our effort to revitalize the surrounding area. It’s also going to be the Upstate’s only location dedicated to the history of the textile industry, which was once the economic engine of South Carolina,” said GRC board chairman Wil Brasington.

Textile Heritage Park will also include a recreation area and playground; a community garden; an outdoor classroom for study of the area’s natural wildlife and foliage; and about 80 parking spaces, according to Brasington.

Brasington said GRC has received more than $100,000 in grants and donations to fund the park, which is going to cost nearly $500,000. The corporation, for example, recently received a $30,000 grant from the John Smith I Charities that will fund the children’s playground in the park.

Last year, GRC received about $43,000 from the Greenville Textile Heritage Society for a Textile Museum designed to look like a 1930’s-era mill house. The society plans to maintain and curate the museum’s exhibits.

“We are so excited that Greenville will now have a lasting memorial to the great textile industry that once dominated the industrial climate of the entire upstate of South Carolina,” said Don Harkins, president of the Greenville Textile Heritage Society. “This joint venture with the GRC is a means to what was once a mere dream and now will become a reality.”

In 2011, GRC started searching for available properties that could house the Textile Heritage Park. GRC is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization formed by the county’s redevelopment authority for the purpose of creating economic opportunities in the Textile Crescent region of Greenville County.

Last year, Burt Mosier LLC, a Greenville-based development company, donated the mill’s former parking lot to GRC. The company purchased the 479,000-square-foot former textile mill building and surrounding properties in 2004. In 2006, it redeveloped the building into the Lofts of Greenville apartment complex.

The property, which is close to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, was previously appraised at about $1.2 million. It went unused for so long was because a portion is designated as a floodplain, meaning it can’t be used for permanent structures.

GRC originally planned to construct a 5,000-square-foot building for an adult daycare center that’s already on the property.  However, it canceled those plans and decided to instead construct a new event center, which will feature the Textile Museum and a performance space for for concerts, outdoor movies, picnics and other activities.

Harkins said the site was once the centerpiece of the Monaghan community. A century ago, it was known as “Central Park,” and was used for various occasions including band concerts, a baby parade in the springtime, and the largest patriotic parade held in S.C.

The Monaghan neighborhood is one of the more stable mill villages in the textile crescent, according to Douglas Dent, CEO of Greenville Revitalization Corp. Homeownership, for example, sits at around 50 percent, which is good for the area, he said.

“There are very few recreation areas around the Monaghan neighborhood, and many people living in the area have children that need places to play,” said Dent. “I really think this park is going to become a community feature.”

The neighborhood is also home to a small stream that runs along the side of the park and flows into the Reedy River. The Greenville Soil and Water Conservation District plans to help GRC maintain the stream and create signage that teaches park goers about storm water, water quality, river ecology and other messages to raise awareness of and help protect Greenville’s waterways.

GRC plans to construct the park in two phases, because it has several grant applications pending, according to Dent, who said Mosier has agreed to remove the old asphalt in the parking lot this spring. The corporation plans to begin construction on the park sometime this summer, he said.

The park’s outdoor classroom has already been constructed from dead or damaged trees removed from the surrounding area, according to Dent, who said the park would likely be complete by early 2018. GRC has also already constructed a wall near McBeth Street out of granite rocks that were on the site.

However, GRC is still seeking to raise $300,000 to complete the park. The corporation is allowing the public to purchase bricks or plaques for the textile mill alcoves along the park’s Mill Walk.

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