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Downtown Revitalization

A History

Photo of Main Street, circa 1970, before downtown revitalization beganPhoto of Main Street outside the Hyatt, circa 1970, before downtown revitalization beganOnce the retail center of the area, Greenville's downtown began to languish in the 1960s. As shopping centers lured the major retailers to the suburbs, downtown was left with countless vacant buildings and no people. Greenville faced what other cities faced, a dying downtown in the midst of a growing region. To meet the challenge, Greenville embarked on "downtown redevelopment," remaking Main Street and creating an atmosphere conducive to office, residential, specialty retail, entertainment and the arts. Downtown Greenville’s renaissance became an evolutionary process marked with significant achievements over twenty-five years.


Photo of Main Street, today The first and most important step in changing downtown’s image was the streetscape plan for Main Street. This plan narrowed the street’s four lanes to two and installed free, angled parking, trees, and decorative light fixtures, as well as created parks and plazas throughout downtown. Today, Main Street’s lofty canopy of trees impresses visitors and creates a welcoming backdrop for Main Street activities.

The 1980s

With the new image in place, Greenville recognized the need for the public sector to step forward to provide the impetus for private investment. Photo of lobby of the Hyatt Regency HotelThe Greenville Commons/ Hyatt Regency project created the City’s first luxury convention hotel located directly on Main Street. Funded through a unique public/private partnership, it became a visible manifestation of Greenville’s faith in the future of downtown. Greenville also understood that a master plan was necessary for the downtown’s revitalization success, and developed, with the help of consultants, the Downtown Master Plan. The new vision stated that "by the year 2000, Greenville will have a thriving downtown which is recognized nationally as an example of a ‘state-of-the-art’ community in which to live, work, and play, and which serves in itself as a national attraction." This statement has been the guide for downtown development ever since, and many of the plan’s proposals have come to fruition in recent years. With the public investment and plan in place, many Main Street buildings began to be renovated and major new office buildings constructed.

The 1990s

Arial photo of The Peace CenterGreenville’s successful alliances with public/private investments and a sustained commitment to a plan led to continued revitalization efforts. Through successful public/private partnerships, Greenville continued to create strong anchors throughout downtown. A languishing industrial area was redeveloped into the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, a performing arts complex that incorporated historically significant buildings with dramatic new architecture and landscaping. The West End Market, a mixed-use project of shops, restaurants and offices was developed to stabilize a stagnant historic district.

Photo of the entrance to the BI-LO Center The BI-LO Center, a 15,000 seat arena, brought a full-scale sports and entertainment venue to the heart of the City. In addition, downtown began a residential renaissance, filling vacant upper stories along Main Street.

2000 and Beyond

Photo of Reedy River Falls in downtown GreenvilleToday, previous investments and established public and private relationships have resulted in mixed-use renovations and new construction, major new office buildings, meticulously renovated historic buildings, residential condos in former church classrooms, and a new Governor’s School for the Arts. Now, Greenville is focused on building off the success of Main Street, working to stimulate continued investment throughout downtown. With the completion of the award-winning Falls Park on the Reedyin 2004, the City added a signature element to Greenville’s downtown with the Liberty Bridge, a one-of-a-kind pedestrian bridge suspended over the waterfalls. New public/private partnerships such as RiverPlace along the Reedy River and Fluor Field brought new key anchors for downtown. Truly downtown’s success can be attributed to a plan and a commitment by public and private partners to sustain an environment which creates dynamic opportunities for office, entertainment, dining, residential and retail, and this philosophy continues today.

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Mary Douglas Hirsch
Downtown Manager

You can reach our office during business hours by calling
We are located at:
206 S. Main St.
(9th floor)
Greenville, SC

Our mailing address:
City of Greenville,
Economic Development
P.O. Box 2207
Greenville, SC 29602

or email us with your questions or comments.

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