Mixed-use building in downtown Spartanburg clears first hurdle

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An artist's rendering of the five-story, 70,000-square-foot mixed-use building Spartanburg businessmen Jimmy Gibbs and Andrew Cajka plan to build behind the Spartanburg Marriott in downtown. Photo Courtesy of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.

A mixed-use building planned for downtown Spartanburg has cleared its first hurdle.

The city’s Design Review Board on Wednesday approved a proposal for the new five-story 70,000-square-foot building by Spartanburg businessmen Andrew Cajka and Jimmy Gibbs.

Cajka and Gibbs are principals of the Southern Hospitality Group, which owns the Spartanburg Marriott at 299 N. Church St.

They plan to construct the building on two lots totaling about 5.3 acres behind the Marriott adjacent to the St. John St. parking garage.

The site is near the University of South Carolina’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics, the Chapman Cultural Center, and the Montgomery Building, which is undergoing a $25 million renovation.

“It took a lot of teamwork to get to this point,” Cajka said. “But this is still the first quarter. We’ll get there eventually. It’s exciting. We see a lot of potential in that area. We’re trying really hard because we want this to be something that will bring growth to the city.”

The building is planned for this nearly 5.3-acre site adjacent to the city’s St. John St. parking garage.

A preliminary design plan prepared by Spartanburg-based McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture showed the building will have 7,199 square feet of space for a restaurant on the ground floor.

The first floor will have an atrium and 7,293 square feet of space for a potential bank tenant.

The building’s second floor is divided into four office suites totaling more than 15,000 square feet. Its third and fourth floors are each divided into two office suites totaling more than 15,000 square feet per floor.

A nearly 1,500-square-foot space for a warming kitchen, almost 4,300 square feet of indoor event space, and about 3,000 square feet of outdoor event space are planned for the top floor.

City Council approved a development agreement with Gibbs and Cajka for the mixed-use building in February 2016.

Under the agreement, the city provided the site at no cost to the developers, provided limited-time development rights a hotel on another property behind the Marriott, and agreed to relocate a portion of Silver Hill Street to bring the intersection with Liberty Street into alignment.

Gibbs and Cajka were required to lease at lease at least two-thirds of the building to tenants who are new to the city.

While the developers missed a deadline requiring them to submit projects to the Design Review Board with in 90 days, council approved new terms that gave them until Dec. 31, 2017, to have their plans approved.

The developers entered into the agreement with the city after council voted in 2015 to approve incentives for the $20 million AC Hotel nearing completion near the western end of downtown.

Cajka and Gibbs had hoped to bring a new hotel to property behind the Marriott.

But the agreement between the city and Spartanburg-based OTO Development, which is spearheading the AC Hotel’s construction with Spartanburg-based Johnson Development, prevents the city from offering incentives until three years after the AC Hotel opens.

The AC Hotel is expected to open later this year.

“By creating this type of class A space, I think it opens up potential inventory for outside professional office workers,” Cajka said. “It’s a little too early to say what that [tenant mix] will look like, but this adds a lot of options for downtown.”

The building is expected to have restaurant, retail, and office space, as well as indoor and outdoor event space. Photo courtesy of McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.

Assistant City Manager Chris Story said he believes the project will be a boon for the area surrounding the site and he hopes the developers will move forward with their plans for a hotel.

“It’s a significant step forward,” Story said. “It’s a great looking project. Much-needed. Eventually, and it may happen sooner than folks anticipate, that area of downtown is going to be a concentrated center of positive activity.”

The project is expected to go before council later this month.

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