The revitalization of a major gateway to downtown Spartanburg is moving forward.
Georgia-based United Community Bank (UCB) broke ground Wednesday, Feb. 28, on its new Spartanburg headquarters on 1.7 acres at the southeast corner of East Main and South Pine streets.
“This is going to be great for the bank,” said Dixon Woodward, regional president for UCB’s operations in South Carolina. “It’s also great to be a part of the economic development of downtown Spartanburg and the redevelopment of a prominent corner. We’ve been in this market for a long time, and this is a message that we’re here to stay.”
The multimillion-dollar project was initially announced in July 2017.
But the most visible progress has been made during the past few weeks as Spartanburg-based Demtek has demolished the cluster of vacant buildings on the property the bank now owns at 449 E. Main St.
Those buildings included the iconic Simple Simon restaurant, Sub Station II, and the former Guitar Bar space.
In the coming days, Greenville-based Harper Corp., the project’s general contractor, will begin the task of breathing life into the design concept created by the architectural firm Equip Studio, headquartered in Greenville.
Officials anticipate construction will be completed during the first quarter of 2019.
UCB’s existing headquarters and about 15 employees will relocate from its space at 101 W. Main St. The bank will occupy 7,000 square feet of the new facility, said Kim Mode, president of UCB’s operations in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.
The multiuse development will have 100 parking spaces, a resource that has become less of a commodity in the city during the past few years.
UCB will have an on-site automated teller machine, or ATM, and two drive-thru lanes, which is a big improvement from the bank’s current setup that features a remote ATM in a parking garage next door.
The bank’s space inside the building will include a large meeting room that will be open to the public for various events.
“It’s great for us; it’s great for our clients,” Mode said. “In addition to the normal branch arrangement, the area headquarters will give us the flexibility to house other functions and should enable us to expand our product offering.”
The project is the brainchild of Guy Harris, a developer and broker with Spartanburg-based Spencer/Hines Properties.
Harris initially sought out the services of Greenville-based Centennial American Properties to help move the project forward.
Woodward said the bank and Centennial mutually agreed that a local developer should spearhead the project.
Harris has teamed up with his friend Mark Linkesh to oversee the project via their newly formed development company Willow Flats Development.
“I am so excited,” Harris said. “Every day I come to the office, I take that route just so I can see the progress. The feeling of seeing those buildings come down and the anticipation of the new one coming out of the ground is indescribable.”
The building’s remaining 9,000 square feet will be available for lease. Officials believe the project will bring new retail, restaurant, or office users to an area that is considered to be the junction between the city’s central business district and busy east side.
Woodward and Mode said Harris has already developed a “great” list of prospective tenants.
Officials believe the development will spur more revitalization near the eastern gateway to downtown, which has been an area of concern for the city for several years.
Three aging hotels, a FedEx Kinko’s, and the Corners of Main and Pine shopping center are located at the other three corners of the intersection.
“I can’t say enough about the partnership with UCB and the city of Spartanburg,” Harris said. “What this is really going to do is connect the east side with all of the development that has gone on near Morgan Square. You know a city is really starting to grow and mature when development moves out of that urban center footprint.”
Harris said his vision for redeveloping the corner was sparked a few years ago.
The project required land, however, and Harris, with help from his fellow brokers at Spencer/Hines were able assemble seven smaller properties that make up the development’s new footprint.
“It’s really hard to exaggerate just how difficult it is to put together a project of this nature,” said Assistant City Manager Chris Story. “It isn’t easy… This development team overcame a lot of obstacles and we commend them for seeing it through. This corner has tremendous potential to be a catalyst for future growth. We couldn’t be happier for them.”