vicupstate

Proposal: Downtown Convention Center

75 posts in this topic

From the Greenville News:

 

 

There’s no funding so far, and no site has been picked. But city and county officials say the idea of building a downtown convention center is being discussed.  Greenville Mayor Knox White said he thinks a plan could emerge in 2016 or 2017.

 

He also said during a talk at the Rotary Club of Greenville that the county might join in the project — an idea that Bob Taylor, chairman of County Council, wouldn’t rule out. “I would have to say that there would be some interest in exploring that for sure,” Taylor said. “We’d have to sit down and iron it out.”

 

White broached the subject during a talk at the Westin Poinsett Hotel this week in which he reviewed downtown development activity.Asked about the prospects for a downtown convention center, White said that’s “in the category of must do. There’s no if, buts and maybes. We have to do it.”

 

He said the city inherited what is now the TD Convention Center on Pleasantburg Drive and it has served its purpose well.“But I think the dynamics now with the hotels in downtown, with the river, with all the reasons people want to come, it’s time for (the convention center) to come downtown,” White said.

 

“There are some sites we can look at,” he said, without identifying specific properties.As for funding, the city might sell the TD Convention Center, and it might collaborate with the county, the mayor said.

 

Several members of County Council have “expressed very direct interest in partnering in this convention center,” White said. “I don’t think it will happen in 2015, but I do think 2016, 2017.”

 

Asked about the mayor’s comments, Taylor agreed there’s interest in the topic on County Council. A downtown convention center could foster economic development that could benefit both the city and the county, he said.

Taylor said County Council members have talked about the idea “a little bit,” though there have been no official negotiations with the city.

 

“If we would contribute somehow, we’d have to figure out how to split the pie, I guess,” Taylor said. “There’s just a long way to go, but it’s something I definitely wouldn’t rule out.”

 

City officials considered a downtown convention center 15 years ago, when the TD Convention Center was called the Palmetto Expo Center and privately owned by Textile Hall Corp. But a Chicago consultant recommended against it.

 

In 2001, the city rescued the 517,000-square-foot Palmetto Expo Center from bankruptcy, acquiring it for $6.75 million.

The city hired SMG, a Philadelphia company, to manage the property and contributed $11 million toward a $22 million renovation completed in 2008, said John Wilusz, an SMG employee who manages the center.

 

Wilusz said what is now the TD Convention Center, like most convention centers, doesn’t pay for itself. But he said its annual operating loss of about $500,000, not including debt service, is “on the low side.”

 

Wilusz agreed that a possible future scenario could be using the TD Convention Center for events that require a lot of exhibit space, such as auto and home and garden shows, and using a downtown convention center for events that need meeting space only, such as corporate meetings.

 

“I think it’s fair to say that if the city wants to build a facility downtown that they would need to address plans for this facility,” he said.

 

Roger Newton, general manager of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, formerly the Bi-Lo Center, said he’d like the city and county to consider whether it makes sense to build any downtown convention center next to the sports and entertainment arena that he runs.

 

That would create operational efficiencies and convenience for meeting planners, he said, noting that convention centers in Charleston, Columbia and Gwinnett County, Ga., are co-located with arenas.

 

“We certainly feel like we can make the case for it being located on our site,” Newton said.He said the convention center could be built where the arena has a parking lot now along Church Street.

 

 

The first order of business, he said, is a feasibility study to answer such questions as whether there’s a need for a new convention center, and if so, how big it should be and where it should be located.

 

Chris Stone, president of VisitGreenvilleSC, formerly the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he was “excited to hear that leadership is interested in reviewing options and opportunities related to our convention center.”

From the Greenvile News:

Edited by vicupstate

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I hope something can be worked out so that the TD Center stays in public hands or at least public-private hands.  It is so large for our market size, it provides a lot of opportunities we would not have otherwise.

 

I guess the prime spots DT would be

 

1) River Street at the Reedy River  (where Visitor's Center is/was proposed

2) Bon Secours Center property

3) County Square

4) Greenville News

 

Perhaps the AgFA property on Academy? 

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Interesting article.  I'm sorry to hear that a plan for this seems several years away, but perhaps it is a good thing.  This is a huge decision.  Does Greenville want to market itself as a "convention city?"  Is Greenville capable of becoming a convention city?  If so, we need to plan for any downtown convention center to be large enough to interest larger conventions.  I am sure it's hard to decide on the best size to have, because you don't want it too small to recruit legitimate conventions, but you also don't want it so large that smaller conventions (which could be profitable, if there are enough of them) can't consider it as an option.

 

Regarding potential sites, County Square is an obvious choice, whether it occupied most of that site or was one component of it.  Greenville News site is also a possibility in my mind.  And before this article, I would not have considered having it next to Bon Secours Wellness Arena but that is certainly something to consider.

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I don't know that I'm sold on the Bon Secour Arena site for several reasons. However accessibility to the News site is worrisome. County Square would be strong for accessibility, but weak for hotel access.

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I don't know that I'm sold on the Bon Secour Arena site for several reasons. However accessibility to the News site is worrisome. County Square would be strong for accessibility, but weak for hotel access.

In my opinion, accessibility to the Greenville News site is not an issue at all. However, is it a large enough site? 

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I don't know that I'm sold on the Bon Secour Arena site for several reasons. However accessibility to the News site is worrisome. County Square would be strong for accessibility, but weak for hotel access.

 

I agree on all points.  I don't see a benefit to having it adjacent to the arena, except for the space available.  With that site, I still fear that it would feel "too far" from the main activity downtown.  It could also serve to extend the activity away from Main in that direction, but I doubt it.

 

Access to the Greenville News site is a great point.  I was only thinking about it in terms of pedestrian access and location, but where would people park?  How would delivery trucks get in and out?  Could be a huge problem there.

 

Is there enough space at County Square to have a convention center and a hotel?  If so, that would work well I think.  This is probably my top choice at this point.

 

Finally, is there anywhere across Academy that would work well?  I know we don't want it to be too far off the beaten path, but it could be a huge boon for that area to have a convention center there.

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I agree on all points.  I don't see a benefit to having it adjacent to the arena, except for the space available.  With that site, I still fear that it would feel "too far" from the main activity downtown.  It could also serve to extend the activity away from Main in that direction, but I doubt it.

 

Access to the Greenville News site is a great point.  I was only thinking about it in terms of pedestrian access and location, but where would people park?  How would delivery trucks get in and out?  Could be a huge problem there.

 

Is there enough space at County Square to have a convention center and a hotel?  If so, that would work well I think.  This is probably my top choice at this point.

 

Finally, is there anywhere across Academy that would work well?  I know we don't want it to be too far off the beaten path, but it could be a huge boon for that area to have a convention center there.

The Greenville News has delivery trucks coming and going all the time. Plus the entire facility would probably be demolished to begin with, so a garage could be included anyway.

 

County Square is more than big enough for a large center and a hotel with room to spare.   

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The Greenville News has delivery trucks coming and going all the time. Plus the entire facility would probably be demolished to begin with, so a garage could be included anyway.

County Square is more than big enough for a large center and a hotel with room to spare.

My main worry is traffic getting from 385 to the area. The roads aren't designed for that nor should they be made to accommodate it.

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It's pretty obvious from reading between the lines in the newspaper article that a downtown convention center would be going on the county square site.

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you would have to enter from the back of the property on Falls St.  Come in on 385, turn left on Church then right on Camperdown then Camperdown becomes Falls St. enter on left just past Bowater Garage.

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Yea, but that "exit" off of Church Street can't handle hundreds of cars in a short amount of time. I like the integration of the site within downtown, but it would be gridlock trying to get people there. Roadwork could change all of that, but I think there would be better projects for those roadwork funds. But this is all just speculation anyhow.

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The Camperdown exchange with church needs to be redesigned anyway. I would say have that done by the state so traffic can get to a parking garage behind the convention center where the empty lot and warehouse currently sit.

 

Also, this might be beneficial to get remove the private garage next to the Falls. A nice condo building overlooking the falls would be BIG money.

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Also, this might be beneficial to get remove the private garage next to the Falls. A nice condo building overlooking the falls would be BIG money.

 

That would be HUGE money.  Trump, here's your chance to enter the Greenville market.  :shades:

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"The evaluation of potential sites should include, but not be limited to the following:

• Adjacent to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena

• Adjacent to the Greenville Hyatt Hotel

• Adjacent to Fluor Field stadium in the West End

• Adjacent to the proposed Visitors Center on River Street"

 

I wonder why County Square wasnt specifically mentioned?  If not County Square, I think I am leaning towards over by River Street (even better, put it where the Gateway lofts are proposed and tie it into the visitors center, the river/Swamp Rabbit Trail, and the future park over there).  

 

If this were to go next to the Visitor's Center in between Academy and River St. it would make whatver goes on the other side of Academy VERY visible to visitors

Edited by gvegascple

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"The evaluation of potential sites should include, but not be limited to the following:

• Adjacent to the Bon Secours Wellness Arena

• Adjacent to the Greenville Hyatt Hotel

• Adjacent to Fluor Field stadium in the West End

• Adjacent to the proposed Visitors Center on River Street"

 

I wonder why County Square wasnt specifically mentioned?  If not Country Square, I think I am leaning towards over by River Street (even better, put it where the Gateway lofts are proposed and tie it into the visitors center, the river/Swamp Rabbit Trail, and the future park over there).  

 

If this were to go next to the Visitor's Center in between Academy and River St. it would make whatver goes on the other side of Academy VERY visible to visitors

 

I think County Square is too valuable of an area to put a full scale convention center at. I would imagine the city and county could generate more revenue at county square from a tightly clustered mixed-use hotel / business / restaurants / condos. 

 

I agree with you about the Academy / River location. I wonder if it is too small? Maybe something like the Hyatt's hotel / convention center in New Orleans could fit there (it has 200,000 sq. feet of class-A meeting space. http://www.neworleans.hyatt.com/en/hotel/meetings-and-events.html)

 

And yes, too bad the county / city do not own the site where Gateway Lofts is pending. To me, and I'm not an expert, that would be the best site for a convention center / hotel / parking garage mix. 

Edited by FUgrad02

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Where could it go by the Hyatt? Is there even room for that?

I assume it would replace the municipal garage behind the hotel. That is an excellent location for a corporate highrise building with parking below the majority of office space, in my opinion.

The arena site seems most logical, if pedestrian access to/from the CBD is addressed. A pedestrian bridge or tunnel crossing Church Street would be essential, in my opinion. That site would capitalize on easy access to/from I-385, US-29, and US-123. A convention center could also be a catalyst for redevelopment of the long-vacant Gateway to Greenville site.

County Square would be ideal if it were located closer to an interstate highway. Unfortunately, most visitors would travel over the Church Street bridge and we already see how congested that is every weekday during rush hour, causing overflow congestion on small side streets.

Edited by Skyliner
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Please note that the message concerning "evaluation of potential sites" was posted a year ago and thus is out of date. For one thing, the Greenville News site is obviously out of play now. The Agfa site (former BellSouth bldg.) is not owned by the company but leased from a local investor/developer who is not likely relinquish rights to it willingly. Besides, that would only work if the whole block were available, and I can't see the Baptist church giving up without a fight, nor the other landowners that would be involved. Meanwhile, I've heard rumors that some of the parking expanse of the so-called Agfa property is being considered for further development (but nothing definitive).

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Please note that the message concerning "evaluation of potential sites" was posted a year ago and thus is out of date. For one thing, the Greenville News site is obviously out of play now. The Agfa site (former BellSouth bldg.) is not owned by the company but leased from a local investor/developer who is not likely relinquish rights to it willingly. Besides, that would only work if the whole block were available, and I can't see the Baptist church giving up without a fight, nor the other landowners that would be involved. Meanwhile, I've heard rumors that some of the parking expanse of the so-called Agfa property is being considered for further development (but nothing definitive).

Actually, the city's request for proposals posted by g-man430/citylife yesterday includes the four sites mentioned this morning. The deadline for the proposals is March 19, 2015.

The church mentioned above is Downtown Presbyterian Church. If a developer approaches the organization with a solid plan, they may work together to find an alternate location.

Edited by Skyliner

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Downtown Pres is looking to build on their site. If they could be incorporated or gain money for a new build, then maybe they would consider something.

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I think county square is out due to the lack of hotels within short walking distance.

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Thinking aloud- It's a shame that First Pres creates an obstacle to making a strong pedestrian link to the AGFA site. I don't think they would be keen on giving up any land, and it would limit the options for adjacent spin off development. They own the parking lot behind the Summit, and any land across Washington that Saint Mary's doesn't own. From a traffic standpoint, anything w direct access to Academy or Church is a big bonus.

Edited by GvilleSC

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I still think the AGFA block is the best option.

 

It would need to have a hotel included as part of the convention center for this to work I think.  Even with the new Aloft being a block or so away, it fronts Main St and not where the convention center would be. Also getting pedistrians accross Academy would require a sky walk, okay, now that is not a bad idea, a covered skywalk over academy right into or close to Aloft.    I think the Embassy Suites and Hampton Suites, along with the River, the Swamp Rabbit trail and the visitors center still might be a good fit too.

Edited by gvegascple

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