This story first appeared in the July 11 print edition of the GSA Business Report.
Last October, the Greenville County Council Finance Committee rejected tax incentives in lieu of a $42 million planned community proposal in Greer due to the residential nature of the development.
“FILOTs are used for manufacturing and industry, not housing,” Council Chairman Willis Meadows told GSA Business Report at the time. “So we follow this rule. Now, I’m sorry to say that we haven’t always done that.
The decision could prevent developers of the Greenville Gateway project from seeing their affordable housing projects in the area come to fruition, but Greenville Mayor Knox White said he was in “active discussion” with county councilors on the lifting of restrictions on residential economic development incentives.
Plusurbia, the Miami-based developers of the project, hope to dedicate a percentage of the 300 planned multi-family apartments on the former Greenville Memorial Auditorium site to affordable housing. According to White, the affordable housing component of the plan relies on county approval of FILOT residential incentives.
The 1.83-acre site bordered by East North Street, Church Street and Beattie Place is within the city limits of Greenville, but only the county can activate FILOT agreements under state law. According to Greenville County property records, the last owner, Kana Gateway LLC, purchased the site in 2017 for $3 million.
Greenville Memorial Auditorium sold the site in 2008 after demolishing the auditorium in the late 1990s.
“We’re just urging the county to come up with some guidelines or rules for FILOT, and hopefully affordable housing will be one of the criteria they give FILOT the green light for,” White told SC Biz News. “And if so, this project would hopefully be the first to be considered by the county.”
The Gateway to Greenville development is far from the only affordable housing project proposed on the FILOT greenlight, but if allowed to go ahead, it could be one of the fastest growing projects. seen within the city limits to receive incentives from the 262-unit Project Unity Gateway apartment development, which included 52 units of affordable and workforce housing.
“So we need to get the county involved and that’s a bigger issue than just this one project,” the mayor said. “It’s a bigger issue than just this one project, but we have a number of projects that could include affordable housing if there was a FILOT, but right now we’re kind of frozen.”
So far, all discussions with the county on the subject have been “only positive”, he said.
But the residential component of the project is old news, according to White. He is most excited about the planned retail and dining space on the ground floor of the apartments, creating the pedestrian-friendly entertainment destination called for by residents responding to a spring survey.
“A lot of people over the years have decided to contract just to get away from it,” White said of the former Greenville Auditorium site. “So this group, what really sets them apart from others in the past is their focus on entertainment and their street-level activation of the project. And also…they’re the first development group to look at this site and say it’s not so much a ‘gateway to downtown’, but more of a hallway gateway to the [Bon Secours Wellness] Arena.”
Along with Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville County and adjacent landowners, the city recently participated in a “privately funded planning exercise” for the North Street Corridor, Interstate 385, Greenville Law Enforcement at 301 E. North St. at the former Greenville Memorial Auditorium Site.
“I think as long as it’s vacant it’s been difficult to attract investment for the whole quarter-mile stretch,” he said.
Although the city does not own the site, White said it is looking to invest in a sidewalk widening project, as well as other safety improvements to attract pedestrians. The collaboration aims to transform the existing strip of one- to two-story relics from the 1970s into taller, updated structures that can conserve space on prime real estate and attract retail operations intended to the public.
The city’s design review board was due to review Plusurbia’s plan for the site on July 7, past the deadline for printing the GSA business report.
Contact Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.