Greenville Tech’s Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation to anchor Poe West development

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The current, in-progress design of Poe West. Rendering by Johnston Design Group.

Greenville Technical College’s new Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation (CHI) will anchor the Poe West development in the Village of West Greenville, the school and developer announced Jan. 10.

The new design and identity for the historic, nearly 60,000-square-foot former Poe West Hardware & Supply Co. at 556 Perry Ave. were revealed in July 2018. The developer, The Furman Co., purchased the property in fall 2017 and is renovating the tract, which most recently housed Diversified Systems Inc., into Poe West, a Class-A office, restaurant, retail, and educational facility with a planned fall 2019 opening.

Plans for the $10 million property include transforming the sprawling industrial building into a collaborative environment that includes creative office space, restaurant users, retail, a brewery, and now CHI. The surrounding land on the 5.58-acre property will include adequate parking along with green space designed for community use.

“We visioned Poe West to be a place where existing and future West Greenville businesses and residents can flourish,” said Steve Navarro, The Furman Co. president and CEO. “CHI begins to fulfill that vision in the most meaningful way. When we first listened to the community leaders in the area and began to understand just how much Greenville’s growing restaurant and hospitality industries needed support, we knew that Greenville Tech was in a unique position to help be part of a solution, so we went to them for partnership.”

The leasing team of Blaine Hart and Tommy Molin of CBRE have been working with The Furman Co. to find the right tenant mix for the neighborhood.

“The team has long believed in the vibrancy, culture, and dynamic mixed-use mindset that Poe West will represent, but when you add such a unique and community impactful user in CHI, we could not be more thrilled about what is to come,” Hart and Molin said in a joint statement. “This concept will no doubt support the ever-growing food and beverage industry but also act as a great anchor for the project and open many new doors for creative office users, maker and artist space, as well as additional retail and restaurant concepts.”

For Greenville Tech, the new center is an expansion to the college’s existing Culinary Institute of the Carolinas located on the Northwest Campus.

Jermaine Whirl, vice president for learning and workforce development at the college, said the move toward downtown Greenville was key to the expansion.

“West Greenville is dedicated as the arts district within the city limits. Over 60 unique artists, galleries, shops, and restaurants are located in what’s known as the village of West Greenville. The vision of the area, combined with the training and workforce needs of the 100-plus restaurants and various hotels in close proximity to the area, made this the ideal location for CHI,” Whirl said via email.

Bringing this new arm of Greenville Tech to the Village of West Greenville is beneficial for both tenant and developer with their mutual goal of supporting the surrounding neighborhood.

“CHI has so much to offer Greenville and at Poe West it will provide a creative synergy to many entrepreneurs, artists, businesses, and patrons that will use Poe West as a launch pad for their community, for their education, their passions, and their exploration of the Village,” Navarro said.

While students won’t be able to earn an associate degree solely at CHI, they will be able to complete Quick Jobs programs in serving/wait staff, bartending, and knife skills. The center will also feature summer camps, personal interest classes, a culinary incubator space, a culinary television show produced by WSPA, and a new hospitality and tourism program.

“The citizens who reside in this community need training to partake in the employment opportunities currently available and those to come in the near future, and Greenville Tech will deliver short-term training programs that will get them to work immediately in one of the fastest growing markets in our area: Culinary/Hospitality & Tourism,” Whirl said.

The college announced the new facility will feature a 50-seat kitchen auditorium, a multipurpose teaching kitchen, and three interactive classrooms.

“We are proud to be part of an innovative approach to providing skilled employees for one of our area’s strongest sectors while allowing the people of West Greenville to access the training they need to find jobs and succeed,” said Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, in a statement.

At this point, Poe West is close to being completely leased, but there is still availability.

“We’ve got some additional strong lease announcements forthcoming but also still have availability and would love to talk with any and all parties interested in being a part of what is being created at Poe West,” Hart and Molin said. “We are very optimistic that this project will change, for the better, West Greenville and the entire community.”


Staff writer Ariel Gilreath also contributed to this report.

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