The future of the County Square redevelopment project

Updated County Square rendering depicting the commercial corridor | Courtesy of Wakefield Beasley & Associates

On Tuesday, May 21, the Greenville County Council considered a motion to give up on the $1 billion, 38-acre County Square redevelopment project. They voted against the motion to kill the redevelopment, so the project will move forward as planned.

Based on feedback from our readers, the top misunderstandings are that the county is building a new, $1 billion building or a billion dollar development.

Let us try to clarify:

County Council is working with the developer RocaPoint Partners out of ATL. The current proposal has the county building a 250,000 sq. ft. office on the site at a $67 million price tag. The other buildings will be funded by commercial developers – i.e. hoteliers, office + retail developers, etc.

When fully built out (~8-10 years), the total investment is estimated at $1 billion – as shown below.

  • Purple buildings: County government offices paid for by proceeds of land sales.
  • Orange + yellow buildings: Paid for + built by private developers.
County Square Renderings
County Square redevelopment rendering | Courtesy of Foster+Partners

County Square redevelopment rendering | Courtesy of Foster+Partners

Here is the development proposal.

Here is the development website.

Here is the development video.

County Square’s (currently University Ridge) footprint is 447,740 sq. ft. sitting on 34.7 acres in downtown Greenville. These facilities currently generate zero revenue.

County Officials say that the land sold to develop the site + the increased property tax revenue from these developments ($23.5MM/year) will cover public costs (county buildings, site infrastructure, etc.), and allow the redevelopment of the site without having to raise taxes. Additionally, it will create a new revenue stream to support the county’s growing funding needs, including: public schools, affordable housing, public transit, + an expanded EMS – again without having to raise taxes.

On May 8, 2018, the council voted unanimously (12-0) to move forward with the redevelopment plan of County Square.

So what changed? Why are they considering killing the deal if it sounds like a home run?

On the April 10 vote, the group was split (6-6).

Against the redevelopment: Mike Barnes, Willis Meadows, Ennis Fant, Rick Roberts, Lynn Ballard, and Xanthene Norris.

For the redevelopment: Butch Kervin, Joe Dill, Bob Taylor, Dan Tripp, Liz Seaman, and Sid Cates.

Last Friday, the six opposed held a press conference where they outlined ten issues they have with the current plan. It appears as though the group is not against the redevelopment, but against the current plan – citing growing cost estimates for the project as a whole and a lack of transparency. They are also calling into question the idea that county offices should not be part of the master redevelopment site, + should be relocated offsite.

Guess we will get a better handle on next steps tonight. Hope to see you there.

Additional County Square renderings for your viewing pleasure below.