The emerging Poinsett Corridor could support more rental housing, a tech and entrepreneurship district, and even an upper midscale hotel in the coming years, according to a new market analysis commissioned by the Greenville Revitalization Corp.
In the wake of new activity such as the 11-acre Greenco Beverage distribution center – and several years after launching a coalition to revitalize the corridor – the report highlights what advocates have been saying for years, say stakeholders: Things are happening in the Poinsett Corridor.
In 2011, the corridor emerged as an underutilized community asset, and a movement grew to begin the process of revitalization, said Shannon Herman, director of the project for the county and assistant to the county manager. Since then, the corridor has seen more community planning in nearby neighborhoods, the demolition of the old Piedmont Shirt Factory to make way for development, and the introduction of beautification and walkability measures to create a sense of place for businesses and residents.
“The question was, ‘This used to be the hub of town – what happened?’” she said. For potential developers and investors, “This minimizes the guesswork.”
A grant from Hollingsworth partially funded the study, which identified four key opportunities in the retail, hotel, industrial and rental housing markets, and presented four development nodes along the corridor. Researchers highlighted the area’s key location – just miles from downtown, beginning at Poinsett Highway and Rutherford Road running north – and the area’s skilled workforce left from its history as a textile hub.
“We’re trying to develop something unique,” said Dent, who noted the ongoing street improvements and small-scale retail would continue to build a sense of community. “There’s a lot of real activity happening right now.”
Unemployment has come down from 15 percent years ago, and the corridor no longer lives up to its previous reputation as a crime-ridden area, said David Doser, a board member of both the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority and its nonprofit development arm, the Greenville Revitalization Corp.
“What this gives us is a little more legitimacy,” he said, noting that the reputation has been hard to shake. “Once Greenco starts construction, things will pick up. … I think there’s a bit of a stigma right now.”
Two motels along the corridor offer a total of 44 rooms, but these properties are old and “well below the quality of facility which would be preferred in the Corridor,” according to the study. Researchers found that hotel room demand grew 66 percent from 2009 to 2014, while supply grew 16 percent during that same period, and is expected to hit 32 percent in 2016. Major hotel traffic generators could be downtown Greenville and Furman University visitors, especially when price is a factor.
TECHNOLOGY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP DISTRICT
With the plethora of incubators, co-work spaces, startups and small businesses, the Poinsett Corridor could fill the need for high-quality, affordable industrial, R&D and flex space for growing businesses, according to the study. The nearby NEXT Manufacturing Center, for example, is expected to house four to six high-growth companies that will likely need to ‘graduate’ in the coming years.
While the corridor has a significant inventory of restaurants, hair and nail salons, convenience stores and clothes care businesses, the study identified 37 retail categories with significant gaps between supply and demand, both for area residents and outside consumers. The study highlighted additional hardware stores, garden/nursery centers, large furniture stores, specialty electronics & appliance stores, and specialty apparel stores, among others.
With new developments on the way and a growing Greenville population, the corridor can take advantage of its proximity to downtown and employment hubs with market-rate rental housing near its southern gateway and close to community amenities such as Poe Mill Neighborhood Park and the proposed trail and park in New Washington Heights.