Upstate Business Journal

Erwin Penland buildings in downtown Greenville changing hands

United Community Bank and the Nelson Galbreath law firm plan to move in to the two office buildings currently used by advertising agency Erwin Penland.

April 14, 2017

by Rudolph Bell

Two downtown Greenville buildings that have housed advertising agency Erwin Penland for many years are getting new occupants.

United Community Bank has a contract to buy the three-story office building at 125 E. Broad St. where Erwin Penland has long housed its headquarters. The bank said it plans to establish a 150-worker operations center in the building.

Next door, local resident Mary Beth Galbreath recently bought the three-story office building at 131 Falls St., at the corner of Broad and Falls streets. That building has also housed Erwin Penland offices, but now Nelson & Galbreath, a local law firm, plans to occupy the first floor unless a single tenant agrees to lease the entire building, said Nathan Galbreath, a partner in the firm and the husband of the building’s new owner.

A trio of Greenville developers — Brody and David Glenn and Jackson Hughes — sold 131 Falls St. and has agreed to sell 125 E. Broad, Brody Glenn said.

Erwin Penland is in the process of moving to a new office building nearby at 110 East Court St. and is scheduled to complete the process by the beginning of May.

The bank said it was scheduled to close on its purchase of 125 E. Broad St. in May and launch the operations center by the end of August after renovations.

UCB said it would use the building, which has about 30,000 square feet of space, to house operations that are currently located at various locations around the Upstate.

The proposed operations center will be within walking distance of UCB’s existing executive offices in the ONE complex at the corner of Main and Washington streets, which Lynn Harton, the bank’s president, said he sees as an advantage.

“We continually focus on making United a great place to work,” Harton said. “Providing our people with comfortable, state-of-the-art office space located in Greenville’s vibrant downtown is a part of that.”

CBRE is marketing nearly 20,000 square feet of office space at 131 Falls and asking between $22 and $30 per square foot, according to a flyer from the real estate brokerage.

The building was built in 1922 and once housed offices for black doctors, lawyers, dentists, a newspaper, insurance firms, and the first black mortuary in Greenville, according to its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

David Glenn restored it in the early 1980s and formerly used it to house his real estate development company, American Centennial Properties.

Erwin Penland moved from Pleasantburg Drive into the building in 1988, recalled Joe Erwin, the agency’s former chief executive.

He said Erwin Penland had to agree to lease an entire floor at 131 Falls and had to sublease some of the space because the agency only had eight employees at the time.

“There’s always going to be a soft place in my heart for that building,” said Erwin, who has since started a business called Endeavor that provides co-work space in the ONE complex for creative professionals and marketing-related businesses.

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