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That new city park you’ve been hearing about since 2004 (sometimes referred to as City Park, Meadowbrook Park, Mayberry Park) is finally becoming a reality, and today it’s got a new, official name: Unity Park.
Unity Park will be situated along the Reedy River and the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail, bordered by Hudson, Mayberry and Willard streets. You could say it’s a big deal, quite literally, given that it’ll be 60 acres in size and twice as large as Falls Park or Chicago’s Millennium Park. (The Champ de Mars in Paris that includes the Eiffel Tower is also 60 acres.) Piedmont Park in Atlanta is 185 acres, but don’t think we can’t compete. Our city will have 214 collective acres of parks between Falls Park, Cleveland Park and Unity Park, all of which are connected via the Swamp Rabbit Trail.
City officials believe Unity Park will provide a response to growth in the area by knitting together neighborhoods, paying homage to a significant part of Greenville’s history + create affordable housing opportunities for all.
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🗼 Greenville’s newest signature landmark: A 10-story observation tower featuring views of Paris Mountain and our downtown skyline, built with wood or steel materials, illuminated at night (step aside, Eiffel Tower).
🌉 A new pedestrian bridge across the Reedy will be longer + wider than the Liberty Bridge in Falls Park.
🏗 Ever noticed that long row of semi-abandoned buildings along the river? Those will soon be converted into commercial spaces (known as the Upstate Commons, with retailers like The Community Tap, Feed + Seed and Carolina Triathlon), with the end building becoming a gathering hall. The hall will be situated parallel to the river, opening up to Hudson Street. A great lawn (similar to the one at Hollingsworth Park Verdae) will be where you spend your afternoons on a blanket with a good book or Saturdays flying kites. With this, Welborn Street will be eliminated.
💦 Say goodbye to your average playground equipment; the playground at Unity Park will be both creative + inspiring, blending in with the nature and landscape of the park. We know you moms out there love that splash pad in front of Lazy Goat. Good news, the playground at Unity Park will feature water jets + spray areas.
🚗 Hudson Street will soon look more like Main Street/a Parisian boulevard, lined with full trees. Park entrances will be located at the intersection of Hudson Street and Washington Street (near the post office), as well as at Hudson Street at Mayberry Street near AJ Whittenberg. Mayberry Street will be looped, creating a perimeter for the park, with temporary parking alongside.
Parking: the city has created several solutions for parking lots around the edges of the park, providing vehicle access from all directions. (Looking to the future, we could see a mobility plan featuring automated electric vehicles).
🏞 DYK: The Reedy River was actually diverted when the railroad was built. Today, the river is a ditch, but not for long. It’ll be restored to create a more gentle flow and gentle slope (meaning someday soon you’ll actually want to put your feet in it). Wetlands will also be restored, creating an outdoor learning space + boardwalk, where you can see natives birds + cranes. The land will act as a natural stormwater base.
🏘 Affordable housing will be the focus of the land closest to the post office at Washington Street. The city, who is in control of the property, believes this will help build a mix-income residential community.
🇺🇸 A veterans memorial will likely be built along Hudson Street, across from AJ Whittenberg, near the observation tower.
1907: A Boston design team came to Greenville to assist in our downtown plan. Of course, they really loved our waterfall + river (can’t say we blame them), and mapped out a ton of green space along the river. The plan was what first lead to the creation of Cleveland Park. The space from the falls to the Mayberry Park area was deemed the “Hudson Athletic Fields”.
~2000: Heard of C. Dan Joyner? He and Leadership Greenville brought in a planning group (again, from Boston), who picked up the 1907 plan and produced the Reedy River Corridor Vision Plan, proposing the Governor’s School becoming part of our downtown landscape. Tom Keith (a civil engineer and landscape architect who had his hand in the development of Falls Park, Verdae, the Kroc Center and so much more) believed the city next big thing was the Hudson Street area.
2017: The city of Greenville’s public works campus was relocated to Mauldin Road.
2018: The former public works campus is currently being removed from the Unity Park site.
2018 - 2019: Moving utilities underground + streetscaping will begin
2019 - 2020: The city + developers will break ground for Phase 1, which includes the observation tower, digging the river + providing wetland permits
2020: The opening of phase 1
While many of us know it as the area where we play flag football, or drop our kids off at AJ Whittenberg, the land has a significance in Greenville’s history. The space was once home to two separate parks (divided by segregation): Mayberry Park and Meadowbrook Park. The name Unity Park is no coincidence; the city hopes it helps unify an area that was once severely divided. In addition, elements of the park will be named after figures in Greenville’s history.
But what’s it going to cost me? Well, Greenville, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know it won’t affect our taxes. That’s because the park will be funded by tourism dollars, as well as public + private partnerships. It’ll operate under the same funding model as Falls Park which was built by the hospitality tax. Wondering why we aren’t using that money towards our roads? It’s simple: hospitality money can only be used for tourism and cannot be used for transportation. The city hopes to raise $30 million across the board to create Unity Park.
For a while, Mayberry Park has been Greenville’s Backyard, it’s the place we put a public works headquarters, where we once had a women’s prison, but the city is working diligently to make Unity Park Greenville’s front yard, and what we’re most proud of.
What do you think of the park? What does the word ‘unity’ make you think of? Let us know.