Historyguy

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About Historyguy

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    Spartanburg
  • Interests
    History, historic preservation, pedestrian and transit issues, higher education, economic development.
  1. Aug Smith on Main (Bishop Furniture building renovation)

    Work continues earlier this week...
  2. Sparkle City Eateries

    While I'm a fan of the coffee bar, I don't think having Starbucks come here is a bad thing for downtown. It shows that chains are looking at the city, and at downtown, and realizing there's money to be made here. I suspect this is related more to the new AC Hotel coming just down the street more than to any desire to take over downtown. I don't think a few regional or national chains downtown is a bad thing. The variety is important. But ultimately this is something that will be up to property owners and shoppers - there's not really anything from a regulatory point of view that the city can do to stop chains from coming in.
  3. I saw some work going on along Spring at that location a week or so ago - it looked like some kind of electrical box was installed right at the sidewalk - or at least some odd contraption. So maybe something is underway. Often in the summer that lot gets very overgrown. I've always thought some nice townhomes along Spring would be a nice way to connect downtown with Hampton Heights, particularly if they could have a brownstone look.
  4. Renaissance Park Projects & Developments

    The Herald-Journal has its story up already - with the slides and renderings that were presented at Council. http://www.goupstate.com/news/20171023/development-agreement-for-downtown-luxury-apartments-advances For what it's worth, the land and terrain itself presents some challenges, but the assistant city manager did say that the buildings would be built up to the street frontage as required by the urban code. The site has a number of storm water easements on it - and a lot of the downtown drainage flows through the area. And the area immediately to its west is a wetland. I do like the tuck-under parking under some of the buildings...
  5. Downtown Projects & Developments

    And there's this - for anyone wondering what's going on at the former Kimbrell's - Rome - Club Six... some wooden structure is being added to the front for a public art project - What do you want to do before you die? https://greenvillejournal.com/2017/10/06/spartanburg-public-art-project-asks-want-die/
  6. Northside Developments

    Actually, I asked one of the senior city staff members at City Council on Monday, and I was told the project won't need DRB approval - it's only mandatory in DT-6.
  7. Agreed, @roads-scholar - it's funny, after that was announced, as I talked to folks about it, invariably they'd say, "that piece of land doesn't look big enough to hold that!" or something like that. I think the lesson to learn is you can often get a lot of building into a spot... something to remember as we try to build even more infill properties around the central city. To me, residential infill is one of the keys to growing the city's population - more places to live in the city center equals more residents and taxpayers in the city!
  8. My understanding is that Johnson Development does own the HJ building - and they also have an option on the city-owned portion of that block - which goes all the way to Spring Street. So JDA controls the entire south side of West Main from Spring Street to the railroad tracks. I presume that when the time is right, and they have a plan, we'll see some announcement of a project on the HJ site. Office, mixed use, I'm sure it's all idle speculation right now... but idle speculation and dream spinning is always fun!
  9. I would also like to see some more things in writing. I am betting, though, that the new city-county building on the current city hall site would be built somewhere else on that block... in the parking lot, perhaps even on Broad Street, but that's just a guess. The City has control of that entire block bounded by Church, Spring, Broad, and Kennedy except for 3 parcels - the main one being the Nautilus Fitness Center, but also the corner lot where A Arrangement Florist was located. The third one is a small parcel on Kennedy Street that is vacant. So if they wanted to eminent domain those parcels on Church Street, they could have it front there and face the library... but even if not, there's a lot of land on that block.
  10. The Grain District

    Well, a few other thoughts - yes, it is DT5, but the fact that it's an existing building is going to play into the decision. For example, it isn't going to be able to meet the setbacks required in DT5 because it is already there. I am not sure all of the standards apply. They will apply - it appears to me - if it is a substantial modification (above 50% in appraised value) and then only to the "expanded area and the landscaping requirement to the extent practical." I will have to ask to be sure, but I've been told that DRB approval is only required for new construction in DT6 and in required shopfront and parcels greater than 2 acres. (I am looking at section 2.4.1 of the downtown code.) But even on the one vs two story issue - not sure the DRB could really require them to add a second story... I may not like this a lot, but I don't know if we have a regulatory framework to refuse it.
  11. I saw that article as well, and it left me with several thoughts. A combined city-county government complex - a "Government Center" or "Government Square" concept is not an unreasonable thought, and worth investigating. But it begs several questions: What are the possible elements of a Government Center? -A Judicial Center (that is, the courthouse), with facilities for circuit court, family court, magistrate's court, probate court, the Clerk of Court, Solicitor, and probably other things like probation services.) -A County Administrative building (County Council and County Administrative functions, Codes, Planning, etc) as well as Treasurer, Auditor, Coroner... -A City Hall for the City of Spartanburg - with all city departments under one roof (there are 3 or 4 places where city employees hang their hats, not counting fire stations.) -A place for the remaining agencies that are state agencies but the county is responsible for housing - Elections (which is in the North Church building), DSS, Clemson Extension, and whatever else is at the old Sky City on Whitney Road. -Anything else? Probably a parking garage would be necessary to serve all of these entities. A single building with all of that in it would be huge. And also probably unwieldy and labyrinthine. If we were to put it all together, I'd be more interested in a complex of buildings, where one is clearly City Hall, one is clearly the Judicial Center, and one is clearly the administrative building. Perhaps there's a shared small auditorium/large meeting room for council meetings, legislative delegation meetings, etc that all would have access to. Another advantage is the different levels of security required of different buildings. When I went to the courthouse a few years ago to file my notary commission with the clerk of court, they would not let me into the building with my briefcase. I can see that level of security around the judicial center, but not to go to the planning office. Some further questions - do the city police and county sheriff's office also move to this facility? As to location - I agree with Westsider that the current City Hall space is not ideal for such a facility- in fact, that to me is the best option for mixed-use redevelopment, with its proximity to Morgan Square, its frontage on Church for office and retail, and perhaps the Spring Street side for residential that would connect Morgan Square to Hampton Heights. The advantage of the current Courthouse site is that you could build modules on site in phases - you've got to build a new judicial center before you can tear down the current one, and then you could build a new city hall or administration building, or both, on Magnolia Street. Or perhaps you have to jump across Daniel Morgan to the west to get enough real estate to get everything in one area. I don't see the courthouse site as being as primed for mixed-use redevelopment - and also, so many of the lawyers are already there, that moving the courthouse a few blocks south would possibly start a migration of the lawyers nearer to the new place, and I don't really think there's a lot of space for new lawyer offices around City Hall. OK, this got kind of long... If not one of those two sites, where would this behemoth go?
  12. The Montgomery Building

    I knew they were going to have to remove the concrete panels - because that's the part of the building that was failing. The concrete - pressed concrete I think is what it is - was made with beach sand in the 1920s, which was acidic, and so it gradually started to corrode the rebar, and expand, and thus cause the concrete to flake off. They had to go through their hurdles with the Park Service to be able to do the work and still get the historic preservation tax credits. The new panels are supposed to be exact replicas. What I didn't realize is that it would mean you could see INSIDE the building - I thought they were panels that gave some structural support, sort of like a veneer, but I didn't realize they went all the way through! Basically the building will be getting an entire new skin.
  13. Bon Haven to be demolished?

    I guess the Cleveland heirs figure the property is worth more without the house on it - prominent intersection, right across from the hospital. Sad.
  14. Northside Developments

    Howard and College - I presume that's going to be across College from VCOM, on that block that the city acquired from Jimmy Gibbs, that could go along Howard to the Monarch Cafe - though looking at the map, I suppose something could be on the east side of Howard as there's some vacant land along College Street there. Will be interested to see a site plan as well when it becomes available.
  15. Aug Smith on Main (Bishop Furniture building renovation)

    And, a story on the Aug Smith-Bishop Furniture building project. http://www.goupstate.com/news/20170306/developer-closes-on-former-furniture-store-downtown