Bids from “qualified professional firms or individuals to conduct a comprehensive market demand analysis and evaluation of the potential of constructing a new convention facility in the downtown area” are due by March 19, said the city’s solicitation.
According to the RFP document, a downtown convention center would need to be at least 200,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, which could include existing space in combination with new space. It would also require the sale of the city’s current facility, the TD Center, according to South Carolina law.
When the TD Convention Center was partially renovated in 2006, the city received a $7 million bond from the State of South Carolina. If the city were to just sell the TD Center, that money would need to be repaid. Last year, new laws went into effect that say if a convention and trade show center is sold and the proceeds are used to build a new one on publicly owned land within a certain period of time, the bond money would not have to be repaid.
The TD Center is three miles from downtown and has 280,000 square feet of exhibit space and 27,000 square feet of meeting space, plus a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, and can accommodate groups from 25 to 25,000. The analysis will determine an approximate size and configuration of a possible new downtown convention center.
The city “seeks to dramatically increase visitor economics (overnight visitor stays) associated with attracting sizeable conventions, trade shows, and meetings to the community,” said the document. It will also look at what current clients could potentially be lost if the current TD Center was sold.
As the current convention facility, the TD center has lots of space and parking and is easy to deal with, Chris Stone, president of VisitGreenvilleSC, told UBJ last year. “The downsides are the weak inventory of hotels, walkability and no headquarter hotel,” Stone said. Meeting planners want a large hotel facility that can accommodate a majority of participants, generally around 400 rooms, he said.
The RFP is available for download at bit.ly/Greenville-Convention-RFP.
According to the city, the evaluation of potential downtown convention center sites should include, but not be limited to, the following:
–Adjacent to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena
–Adjacent to the Greenville Hyatt Hotel
–Adjacent to Fluor Field stadium in the West End
–Adjacent to the proposed Visitors Center on River Street