department of economic development
Once 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
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.
With the new image in place, Greenville recognized the need for the public sector
to step forward to provide the impetus for private investment.
The 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.
Greenville’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
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
Today, 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.