Unity Park observation tower update

Last week, the GVLtoday team was given the opportunity to scout out the location for the proposed observation tower in Unity Park. See pictures of Sarah 80 feet above the ground in a boom lift below. While there, we saw new renderings of the tower and learned some important updates on the project. 

To get you up to speed: In May 2018, Greenville City announced plans for Unity Park – 60 acres of land west of downtown with a pedestrian bridge, playground, gathering hall, lawns + (at its center) a landmark observation tower. At the time, the tower was planned to be 10-stories tall + lightedi.e. as high as City Hall and rivaling the grandeur of Liberty Bridge.

Original rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
Original rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.

So, what’s changed?

  • The current design height of the Unity Park observation tower is shorter than initially proposed: 80 feet tall (~7 stories) as opposed to the original 120 feet tall (~10 stories). In the video, the boom lift brought us to the new proposed height of the tower – so the awesome panoramic view of downtown and the Blue Ridge Mountains is what you’d actually see.
  • The redesign was done in an effort to reduce the cost (originally estimated at $10M) + improve the scale of the tower to the park. New cost estimates for the tower will be developed in the coming months.

Note: This is the current design, but it may not be the final design. The final design + construction timetable for the tower will depend on fundraising. See all the new renderings here.

New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.

What hasn’t changed about the tower is funding: Construction of Unity Park won’t involve a dime of city tax money. Here’s how it works:

  • The park is being built with $26M of tourism-generated taxes. Downtown visitors generate nearly $12M every year in hospitality taxes. By law, hospitality tax revenue can only be spent on tourism-related projects (things like parks, the Greenville Zoo, S.C. Children’s Theatre, etc.).
  • $5M from storm water funds is being used to restore the Reedy River and $2.3M in utility line burial money will be used to put power lines underground.
  • The remaining money needed for the initial $40M phase of the park will come from private donations and grants. The tower will only be built if enough private funds are generated.
  • The tower will be named – but it will not be available for branded naming rights.

Since Unity Park was initially proposed, it was intended to knit together neighborhoods, pay homage to Greenville’s history + create affordable housing opportunities. In 2018 when the park was announced, Mary Duckett, head of the traditionally low-income and African-American Southernside neighborhood association, said “the park’s name speaks for itself.

The observation tower aims to be a prominent display of Unity Park and its goals. The updated proposal maintains the tower’s artistic lighting – making it, according to Duckett, a beacon to the entire community that the Southside Community is on the map.” The Unity Park observation tower will be free to visitors, and will be accessible by stairs and elevator.  

New Unity Park observation tower renderings

New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.
New rendering of Unity Park observation tower. Photo by MKSK Landscape Architects.

Question:

What would you name the observation tower in Unity Park? 

#Answered:

Most frequent suggestions:

  • The Beacon
  • Forever Unity
  • Freedom Tower
  • Hope Tower
  • Southside Tower
  • Unity Tower

Additional ideas:

  • AJ Whittenburg Unity Tower
  • Cook & Pearis – named for two men who had a great impact on Greenville and shaping it
  • Greenville United
  • Hamlet Tower (another name for community)
  • Harmony Tower
  • Knox White Observation Tower
  • Life Tower (looks like DNA and we would have Life, Liberty…Pursuit of Happiness next!)
  • Looking Forward
  • Max Heller Tower
  • One Vision Tower
  • Parks Tower (as it overlooks the “ park” and also pays homage to Rosa Parks)
  • Piedmont Panorama
  • Prosperity Tower
  • Reflection
  • Solidarity Spire
  • Textile Tower – named for Greenville’s roots in the textile industry
  • Triumph Tower
  • Vision Tower