Two bits of good news for downtown Spartanburg patrons this past week, and great news for a city in the midst of its largest growth spurt in almost a century.
The first was a redevelopment plan for the 88-year-old Smith’s Drug Store at 142 E. Main St. that was brought before the city’s Design Review Board.
Still subject to change, the multimillion-dollar plan involves a completely new four-story mixed-use building that would replace Smith’s existing 12,000-square-foot location.
The building could include 3,000 square feet for Smith’s new home, 2,900-square feet for an additional commercial tenant, and apartments on floors two through four.
Lewis Miller Park adjacent to Smith’s current building could be upgraded with new outdoor dining, public benches, string lighting, and landscaping, according to the preliminary plan.
Kuntal Patel, who purchased the store four years ago, said he anticipates the project will take up to two years to complete. He plans to keep the store open throughout construction by moving temporarily to Haute Mama’s former space at 154 E. Main St.
“This store has been iconic for the community for many years,” Patel said. “Hopefully [the redevelopment] will keep this store going for another 100 years. … I feel great. I’m lucky. When I came here in 2014, many people and the city were working hard [to grow downtown Spartanburg]. In 2015, things really picked up. I think I’m in a great situation. And I think it’s good for the city.”
On the opposite end of downtown Spartanburg, former Spartanburg Mayor Bill Barnet purchased the property housing the former Auto Fleet automotive showroom at 331 W. Main St.
The showroom has been closed for several years and the property has become an eyesore for anyone entering downtown via its western gateway, or those looking west from the new AC Hotel.
Barnet said he plans to demolish the existing building and clear the site in hopes of attracting new development.
Given Barnet’s track record with securing sites in downtown for future use, this deal has major potential.
His portfolio includes the old Abby’s Grille building recently purchased by the Peddler Steakhouse, the Carolina Gallery building now occupied by Bond Street Wines and soon-to-be Colliers International office, and a former storefront at 130 Magnolia St. that is now home to a satellite office for the Children’s Museum of the Upstate.
Jansen Tidmore, executive vice president of Spartanburg’s Downtown Development Partnership, said both projects are important for a couple of reasons.
“What Kuntal is doing — taking an established business and reinvesting in it — speaks volumes to the sustainability and vitality in our downtown,” Tidmore said. “I’m happy and very proud for him.”
“As we continue to build density in downtown, [the West Main Street] corridor will become a key area of opportunity,” Tidmore added. “That’s land that has a lot of potential. We’re getting rid of an eyesore that would not and could not contribute to the growth of downtown Spartanburg.”
The ball is still rolling in downtown Spartanburg. There’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.