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Proposal: Downtown Convention Center


vicupstate

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I still like the Memorial Auditorium site, but am not sure it is large enough for both a convention center and large hotel.  I suppose the hotel could be a block or two away if they are willing to have an underground indoor tunnel connecting the two.  That would probably get expensive though...

 

I don't really know of any other sites large enough for this, especially if we want to become more of a convention city.  It HAS to be downtown, in my opinion.  A convention center alone isn't going to generate a new hub of activity in Greenville to the point of justifying a non-downtown location.  Besides, connectivity somehow to downtown via mass transit would be necessary, and we know that isn't going to happen anytime soon.

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Editorial in UBJ argues for the Hughes property on the river as the site for the CC. Pretty strong argument, IMO.  I think it should be there or on Calvin St. 

 

Is that big enough for a convention center?  It seems that there is way too little space there for a sizable convention center, not to mention parking and other needs for such an important attraction.  I'm guessing that the nearby hotels would be the "convention hotels?"

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Is that big enough for a convention center?  It seems that there is way too little space there for a sizable convention center, not to mention parking and other needs for such an important attraction.  I'm guessing that the nearby hotels would be the "convention hotels?"

That spot, not including the existing building on the block, is actually a hair bigger than the footprint for Columbia's downtown convention center, which is actually pretty nice considering that it's in Columbia.

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There is 3.76 acres owns by Phil Hughes, 1.178 acres owned by the Tourism folks for the proposed Visitor's Center and .154 acres where the green house is.

 

If the first two are combined that is 4.939 acres. Slightly over 5 acres (5.093) with the house too.  The parking would be underground or garaged, so I am sure that is sufficient. If the center went gangbusters and needed to be expanded, that might be problematic though.   

 

 

For comparison, the Greenville News site is just under 4 acres.  The Gateway (old Auditorium) site is about 2.25 acres. The Arena is on 11.128 not including the garage. Of course, the arena building consumes a lot of that. There is another 2.138 acres within that block that is in private hands (including Bob Hughes office which is cut off from the remainder of the block by the garage). 

 

County Square is 30+ acres but obviously all of it would not be devoted just to a CC.

 

If the Fluor Field option was pursued, you are looking at about 4 acres, primarily the Transit Authority property but with 3 other property owners involved.   

 

There is about 2 acres between the Hyatt and E. North St. that could be used, but that would involve demolishing about 5 currently occupied buildings (I didn't include the 3 story building at Main and E. North, just those fronting E. North).   

Edited by vicupstate
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  • 2 months later...
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From Greenville News:

The question isn’t simply where to put a convention center in downtown Greenville — it very well could be whether the city needs one.

The work to determine that will soon begin.

The city has agreed with a Chicago-based consulting firm to assess in full whether a new convention center would thrive, and if so, where it would go.

Hunden Strategic Partners is expected to begin its analysis mid-August, said Julie Horton, the city’s governmental relations manager.

The firm, which was selected for the job after responding to the city’s request for proposals, will perform a market-demand analysis and look at elements such as what potential customers it could bring in and what customers have been lost by not having a downtown center,” she said.

“We have to determine first whether we even need a facility,” Horton said.

The idea of a modern convention center in the heart of downtown has been percolating for years.

The city identified four properties in particular to study (though not limited to them): Bon Secours Wellness Arena, the Hyatt Greenville, the former Greenville Transit Authority property next to Fluor Field and the proposed site of a visitor’s center on River Street next to Linky Stone Park.

A map in the RFP shows the boundaries of potential sites to be Church Street to the east, including Bon Secours arena, the length of Academy Street to a few blocks west of Fluor Field and including County Square and properties around it.

The city is working in collaboration with the county and the non-for-profit economic development organization VisitGreenvilleSC.

The downtown center would replace the TD Convention Center, a 368,000-square-foot facility three miles outside the center of downtown.

The city bought the TD center — at the time known as the Palmetto Expo Center — in 2001 for $6.7 million, saving the center from bankruptcy.

In 2008, the city contributed $11 million to help renovate the center, which can accommodate larger convention shows.

Under state law, the city would have to sell the TD Center but the facility wouldn’t necessarily close.

In the RFP, the city directs the consultant to identify how existing TD Center users could be accommodated downtown and what users the city might lose with a move, which would require “non-compete requirements.”

The law requires the new facility must accommodate at least 200,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, according to the RFP.

The consulting firm will ultimately determine the top three possible sites.

A downtown convention center would focus more on corporate events from organizations outside of Greenville, Mayor Knox White said.

The new center would need to be associated with a hotel, among other amenities,White said.

The Greenville News property on South Main Street had once been rumored as a potential convention center site, but large-scale plans call for redeveloping the property into a mix including condos and apartments, office and retail space, a restaurant, dine-in movie theater and hotel.

 

Sounds like the option of simply augmenting the TD Center is not an option.  I'm sure the couple of hotels near the TD would not like that, nor the other businesses on Pleasantburg.  200,000 SF is a pretty sizable center.  It would not be cheap to build.    

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  • 6 months later...

I thought the whole point was to build a Conference/Meeting facility, not a full blown Convention Center. The land across from the new Embassy Suites should be sufficient for a pretty big facility of that type, especially if the parking was underground.  I thought the premise all along was to keep the TD Center as the 'big box' Convention Center.

The bed tax collected for the Visitor's Center could be one source of funding, although some of the prior collected funding was already spent on that now-dead idea. 

Ant what the hell does this mean:

The study suggests that the economic impact of closing the TD Convention Center, which operates at a deficit and outside downtown off Pleasantburg Drive, would be minimal.

 

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3 hours ago, vicupstate said:

I thought the whole point was to build a Conference/Meeting facility, not a full blown Convention Center. The land across from the new Embassy Suites should be sufficient for a pretty big facility of that type, especially if the parking was underground.  I thought the premise all along was to keep the TD Center as the 'big box' Convention Center.

The bed tax collected for the Visitor's Center could be one source of funding, although some of the prior collected funding was already spent on that now-dead idea. 

Ant what the hell does this mean:

The study suggests that the economic impact of closing the TD Convention Center, which operates at a deficit and outside downtown off Pleasantburg Drive, would be minimal.

 

Here is what that sentence means. It loses money. Shut it down. It no longer loses money.

Edited by gman
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5 hours ago, FUgrad02 said:

http://upstatebusinessjournal.com/news/greenville-lacks-space-for-convention-center-study-says/

What site on East Broad St. does Timberland Capital Partners own? Is it big enough for a large hotel/meeting site? 

It is the Calvin Street property that includes the vacant building that use to be a Postal truck depot or something of that order.  

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13 hours ago, gman said:

Here is what that sentence means. It loses money. Shut it down. It no longer loses money.

Yes, it loses money, virtually ALL convention centers do. The firm that did the study would be well aware of that, as would the city since it covers the deficit.  That is not what the statement says. it says:

The study suggests that the economic impact of closing the TD Convention Center, which operates at a deficit and outside downtown off Pleasantburg Drive, would be minimal.

This suggests that the economic impact is essential zero.  For that to be true, the attendees at the events held there would have to all be locals and thereby not bring in 'outside' money spent on hotels, restaurants and such.  I don't see how that can be. 

As i said already, these centers lose money on operations, but the broader impact to restaurant/lodging/gas/retail sales is considerable (but goes into many, many different pockets). Also, the taxes on those services would also 'pay back' to a degree the operating deficit.  

   

They also are saying a 30,000 SF building costs $2,100 a square foot to build.  

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On 2/25/2016 at 10:02 PM, vicupstate said:

Yes, it loses money, virtually ALL convention centers do. The firm that did the study would be well aware of that, as would the city since it covers the deficit.  That is not what the statement says. it says:

The study suggests that the economic impact of closing the TD Convention Center, which operates at a deficit and outside downtown off Pleasantburg Drive, would be minimal.

This suggests that the economic impact is essential zero.  For that to be true, the attendees at the events held there would have to all be locals and thereby not bring in 'outside' money spent on hotels, restaurants and such.  I don't see how that can be. 

As i said already, these centers lose money on operations, but the broader impact to restaurant/lodging/gas/retail sales is considerable (but goes into many, many different pockets). Also, the taxes on those services would also 'pay back' to a degree the operating deficit.  

   

They also are saying a 30,000 SF building costs $2,100 a square foot to build.  

The challenge with many conferences and conventions is that have people's time locked up in meetings/sessions all day. They often provide food and sometimes entertainment on-site, so many people don't (or aren't able to) venture out. Sure, there are people to fill hotel rooms, and maybe some of them sneak off for a coffee or have dinner, and the convention operators use local vendors to provide those services, but it's not like people are out exploring the city. The economic impact of convention centers is definitely above zero, but it's not the economic cash cow that they are often sold to be. That being said, having a convention center downtown would guarantee a better chance of people experiencing what makes Greenville unique than at the current location. It might also help attract enough conventions to at least reduce the operating deficit.

 

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  • 4 months later...

Columbia is looking to expand it's convention center and this article on that had an interesting tidbit as it relates to our TD Center.  This is why it made no sense to me that the recent consultant's study said the TD Center was essentially of no value to the city. 

Columbia Convention Center too small for many events

The Capital City’s growing downtown and exploding restaurant, bar and microbrewery market would make it a new and fresh destination for the organization’s 800 or so attendees. The planner also liked the brand new Spirit Communications minor league baseball park, the revitalized Main Street and the additional attractions at Riverbanks Zoo and the State Museum.

But there was a problem. The tiny exhibition space at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center – at 23,700 square feet, the smallest in the state by half – didn’t have room to display all 90 of their sports cars. So the group is going to Greenville instead.

 

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I saw that article in The State as well. I am shocked that Cola built such a small center as recently as 2004. Is this their only convention center? I agree with with you about the TD center. I personally think it would be a huge asset to have one of the largest convention centers in the southeast. Even though the center is not used for the textile show anymore, a large center should be a great selling point. I remember reading in one of the article about a DT center that convention centers should be for more than just boat shows, but why can't the TD be used for multiple purposes?  I've heard it said it is too big; why not use that size as an advantage, be creative, many cities would love to have a large convention center that can accommodate a variety of functions.

I think it would be an enormous waste to get rid of the TD, and build a smaller one that would reduce the possibilities. Yes, I can see the benefit of having a DT one, but not everything needs to be DT. DT does not have the infrastructure, parking, or room to accommodate a convention center with thousands of attendees anyway. And closing the TD would be a huge loss for Pleasantburg. I say, make some changes to the TD to make it easier to tailor it to different size events, add a full service hotel that can accommodate large conventions (together with the airport, that is a perfect set up for conventions and should be a great selling point), and design a better transportation mode from there to DT (one is needed anyway from Pleasantburg as the airport, University Center, and Gville tech is already there).  

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It would be cool if they could put some rail transportation that went from downtown to the convention center and the downtown airport and then out to GSP. If that was easy cheap and quick it wouldn't matter whether it was downtown or not because people after the convention could just hop on the rail to the hotels and entertainment.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G935A using Tapatalk

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