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vicupstate

Stone Avenue/North End

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Thought this area deserved it's own thread.

 

Article form Gville News on Handlebar. 

 

i think it is interestng that there are 'two offers on the table' when the property is supposedly sold.

 

 

For the first time in 13 years, the sounds of countless musicians that have played within the intimate confines of The Handlebar nightclub will fall silent.

 

There is no question the iconic club has been a pioneer in the Upstate’s music scene, attracting artists who otherwise would never have considered Greenville, and has acted as an anchor to a long-developing re-imagining of the north end of downtown Greenville on Stone Avenue.

And there is no question a void — in some shape or form — will be created when the last show goes dark late next month.

However, one question among others stands as perhaps the most provocative: Is this a hiatus for the financially troubled enterprise … or a permanent demise?

The answer very well could be both.

  • If owner John Jeter can follow through on his pledge to re-open The Handlebar — somewhere undisclosed in Greenville, he says, sometime in mid-September — the music scene will shift into a state of limbo for a period of months, only to return.

    Bigger, better, double the size, double the crowds, he says.

    “There are a lot of moving parts,” Jeter told The Greenville News last week. “We have a place. We’re just trying to figure out how to make all these moving parts work together.”

    But for Stone Avenue and all the emerging businesses and historic neighborhoods that surround it, The Handlebar’s departure is a unique loss never to be recovered — though the question of how much it matters to the corridor’s future now is debatable.

    The emergence of progressive, small-scale entrepreneurs and grand plans for multimillion-dollar real estate investment is challenging years of inertia.

    “It’s going to leave a huge hole,” said Greenville City Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle, who represents the district around the North Main and Stone area. “But one of the things we have to look forward to is that there is a lot of bright opportunity coming forward.”

    Familiar tune

    The Handlebar has been through this song and dance before.

    In August 2000, the music club’s lease ran out at the Mills Centre — since renovated into the condo development The Lofts at Mills Mill — where the club first opened in 1994.

    Eight months later, the finishing touches were being put on the club’s renovation of a former auto repair shop on East Stone Avenue, just days before singer-songwriter Dave Alvin was to open, with Cravin’ Melon, Richard Thompson and Richie Havens headlining in the days that followed.

    In an interview with The Greenville News at the time, Jeter jokingly referred to the area as “Little 2½ Points,” a reference to Atlanta’s culturally progressive “Little Five Points” area, where the Variety Playhouse competes for the same acts.

    A small-scale “Little Five Points,” he said at the time, could develop from his end of Stone Avenue, where the Wade Hampton Boulevard suburban highway still collides into an unsung gateway of downtown Greenville.

    Stone Avenue was little more than a collection of gas stations, a four-lane thoroughfare designated as a federal highway to get in and through and out of Greenville.

    “I think it was visionary to move there when no one else was paying attention,” said Gene Berger, owner of Horizon Records, which two years later opened in another converted gas station at the intersection of Stone and Main.

    The two collaborated over the years to promote new music and local artists.

    “No matter what one thinks about what’s happening or what has happened, you can click off the remarkable concerts that have played there,” Berger said, citing the eclectic likes of Havens, Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, Little Feat and Son Volt.

    Berger’s decision to buy his property has itself proven to be visionary, with The Bohemian restaurant leasing the other half of the building from him.

    The two businesses together, along with Greenville Yoga next door, act for now as a cultural bookend of Stone Avenue from North Main.

    For close to a decade, The Handlebar anchored the eastern end — until a couple years ago when a group of entrepreneurs with their own vision for the corridor saw a future in a 1970s-era shopping center.

    “The Handlebar could be viewed by many, me included, as getting Stone to the point where it’s at,” said Mike Okupinski, co-owner of The Community Tap, which opened in 2010 in the Stone’s Point shopping center along with other up-and-coming small businesses and is expanding into a larger space next door.

    However, Okupinski said, “I think the momentum has already been started.”

    Momentum grows

    The Beach Company, a Charleston developer, is planning a $20 million mixed-use project — slated to have 226 residential units and 21,175 square feet of retail space — on a site nearly five acres at the corner of Stone and Main.

    The City Council approved the project with some changes requested by the surrounding community.

    The development is in keeping with the Stone Avenue Master Plan, published in 2011, that calls for a mixed use of new-urban buildings closer to a Stone Avenue that would be altered to become narrower and more walkable.

    Another project nearby on Stone and Rowley Street would add even more apartments and commercial space.

    The sale and development of the “triangle” property across from The Handlebar’s neighbor, Canal Insurance, will be another catalyst for a major transformation.

    The tide of new development — both in the larger-scale projects and in small, inventive businesses like The Community Tap and. J.L. Norris Gallery — has changed how The Handlebar’s departure affects the area, said Bob Bainbridge, president of the North Main Community Association.

    “There’s so much happening on Stone Avenue right now that the departure of The Handlebar will not in any way undermine what’s going on,” Bainbridge said. “When it was like the biggest thing up here, it would have been more serious. It’s simply not the biggest thing on Stone Avenue anymore and certainly not the only thing on Stone Avenue anymore.”

    Another business is forming next door to The Handlebar — the Universal Joint, a restaurant and bar that specializes in renovating former gas stations set in established neighborhoods.

    In other places like Asheville and Chattanooga, the restaurant relies on customers who walk or bike.

    Scott Drake, a partner in the business, said the restaurant is aiming for a mid-May opening and feels confident that its business model will thrive in the community.

    “We were excited about being next to The Handlebar,” Drake said, “but I understand business things change. Hopefully, everything works out for them.”

    What will happen to The Handlebar’s venue on Stone isn’t for certain, Doyle said.

    Two offers are on the table, she said, but both are having difficulty resolving parking issues.

    Looking ahead

    Lack of parking was central to problems The Handlebar faced recently.

    The Handlebar filed for bankruptcy last December as it faced more than $400,000 of debt, according to federal bankruptcy court documents.

    The club faced eviction, finding itself $156,000 behind in paying $5,600 monthly rent to a business partner who owns the building, bankruptcy documents show.

    Recently, the music club lost parking rights next to its venue, court records show, forcing patrons to other lots across the street and the club to cordon off remaining space in front with plastic chairs.

    On Monday, the club and its debtor agreed to lift a stay of eviction, citing the parking issues.

    In a motion for The Handlebar to assume the lease, the club’s lawyer wrote that The Handlebar “staying at its present location is integral to the continued viability of its business operations.”

    The motion states, “Additionally, the costs of moving to a new location are likely prohibitive.”

    However, Jeter said The Handlebar is in a better position now, one that will allow it do bigger things.

    The timing is right, he said, because Greenville Drive baseball games and outdoor festivals will siphon patrons as the weather warms.

    “We believe we have worked our way toward and earned our move to a bigger place,” Jeter said.

    Jeter wouldn’t disclose where The Handlebar might re-emerge but said that it will be double the 8,000-square-foot size and will be able to compete with larger venues like The Orange Peel in Asheville and the Georgia Theatre in Athens.

    The last show in the current 500-person-capacity venue is April 23, when G. Love and Special Sauce perform.

    “We’re going to be able to do this because there’s a business opportunity that looks considerably more compelling than what we realized was out there,” Jeter said. “It’s really exciting because now we can really dial into the business of music rather than having to deal with things that we didn’t want to have to be dealing with.”

    Filling a niche

    The Handlebar fit a certain mold as a venue that local music aficionados said will be difficult — if not impossible — to replace.

    “When you talk about places that seat 500 to 1,000 people, The Handlebar stacks up with any venue in the country,” said Anthony Tomlinson, a member of the local ‘80s cover band Retro Vertigo. “The lineup and talent they’ve had come in there is unlike anywhere in South Carolina, for sure.”

    The Handlebar has had deep connections in the music industry for decades.

    The club has landed big names like Avett Brothers, John Mayer and Zac Brown Band, while at the same time opening its doors for charity events.

    The Handlebar also has played the part as an incubator for artists who ultimately made it big, such as Greenville’s Edwin McCain and Columbia’s Hootie & The Blowfish.

    A cover band like Retro Vertigo will get a chance to play The Handlebar three times in a year as hundreds upon hundreds of other artists fight for a spot, Tomlinson said.

    During a hiatus, Tomlinson said, smaller bands will be forced to look to other venues like bars when they could sell many more tickets.

    “It just leaves a massive void for those types of artists,” he said. “If you play in a bar, certainly there’s going to be a core number of people who are going to come out to see you because they like you and will follow you to different places,” he said. “When you play in a place where people actually pay their hard-earned money to buy a ticket to come see you play ... there’s a big difference between the two.”

    Greenville suffers from a lack of music venues, partly because it lacks a college campus and partly because of a business-oriented culture that doesn’t tend to its “cultural infrastructure,” said Berger, owner of Horizon Records.

    “Anybody can take a large name and fill a big venue,” Berger said. “The challenge is balancing attracting big names but having the community support up-and-coming artists.”

    The absence of The Handlebar likely will mean that larger acts not quite ready for venues the size of the Peace Center, Charter Amphitheatre or Bon Secours Wellness Arena will pass by Greenville while touring between larger cities, he said.

    “Sadly, they might not stop in Greenville during span of The Handlebar not being available,” Berger said. “It’s a 500-seater as it sits now. There’s nothing really that’s available in that specification in the Greenville market that I’m aware of for that type of music. We need more venues.”

 

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I just think the pricepoint on these makes the project unfeasible.  $400k.  I don't think the houses on on this section of Park Ave. are that much.

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Under $175/sqft. New construction going for around $175-200/sqft so id say its inline, but you have to factor townhome vs single family.

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If their goal was a horrible rip off of the arts and crafts style, then they nailed it.

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How is that neighborhood going to respond to these plans?

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How is that neighborhood going to respond to these plans?

 

Hopefully "yes sir, may I have another". This part of town needs some life.

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Good stuff... this is what had been rumored for weeks now.

 

I will say, I was at the Universal Joint a few weeks ago and the developer was meeting with Amy Doyle and overheard her mentioning redevelopment past this area (unsure if she meant the large triangle or somewhere else) and also redevelopment of the insurance company next door would provide additional parking in the future with a parking garage. Didn't necessarily hear her say it was in the works, but good to hear things like that are top of mind to city leaders.

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Sounds great. Open to 2am, music venue and bowling. Sign me up. I was a little discouraged by the "fun for every age" comment though. 

I saw that too, but I'm thinking it's going to be more adult oriented.

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Could be something good. I went to the one in Charleston last year. Im going to say this. If they dont put some real money into this. Its not going to be good. Im just crossing my finger and trying to be optimistic. If they can pull it off. Then that could be a focal point, like the beach company, to spur developement up and down Stone Ave.

But other news. And dont know its been mentioned. I went into the lawn and tractor repair business and they said they were moving. No surprise there. Since they have a for sale sign outside. The surprise is that they submitted a permit to update the exterior of the property and the city denied it. I had a long conversation with the owner, who is more than upset with the city. Said once he sales he was moving his business outside city limits. Maybe mauldin or greer. But said he has had some serious discussion with some developers who are interested in other property on either side of his business. Of course he couldnt get into specifics. But might be something to look for in the future. Maybe some of our real estate folks on here can do a lil investigating to get a lil more info. I got this info just because this guy wanted to vent. Oh and this company is on the west stone ave. Across from the old plasma center.

Edited by MAJIKMAN

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Could be something good. I went to the one in Charleston last year. Im going to say this. If they dont put some real money into this. Its not going to be good. Im just crossing my finger and trying to be optimistic. If they can pull it off. Then that could be a focal point, like the beach company, to spur developement up and down Stone Ave.

But other news. And dont know its been mentioned. I went into the lawn and tractor repair business and they said they were moving. No surprise there. Since they have a for sale sign outside. The surprise is that they submitted a permit to update the exterior of the property and the city denied it. I had a long conversation with the owner, who is more than upset with the city. Said once he sales he was moving his business outside city limits. Maybe mauldin or greer. But said he has had some serious discussion with some developers who are interested in other property on either side of his business. Of course he couldnt get into specifics. But might be something to look for in the future. Maybe some of our real estate folks on here can do a lil investigating to get a lil more info. I got this info just because this guy wanted to vent. Oh and this company is on the west stone ave. Across from the old plasma center.

 

Well, did the Charleston one impress you? If so that would be a could indicator of what to expect here.

 

That site on West Stone is over an acre, so there is a lot that could be done.  I can understand the owner being upset, but the site is certainly not at its highest and best use as it is.  He could probably relocate to better digs and make a nice profit too.  

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Well..... It was alright. Nothing spectacular. I wouldnt go back if i were in charleston. But thats just me. Maybe they could have bigger and better plans than they did down there.

But for the lawn repair owner. I think he even knows his time has come. That area is going to grow like crazy in the next few years. He's going to come out of this ok.

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From Greenville News:

 

A two building, 53 unit condo will go up at 450 Park Avenue, near the Park Avenue Pub.  4 floors of units over parking in each building.  Rick Thoenes Sr. is the developer. Paper says plans go before the Design Review Board on Jan. 8.  I'm not sure if that part is right.     

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From Greenville News:

A two building, 53 unit condo will go up at 450 Park Avenue, near the Park Avenue Pub. 4 floors of units over parking in each building. Rick Thoenes Sr. is the developer. Paper says plans go before the Design Review Board on Jan. 8. I'm not sure if that part is right.

Wonder why that developer name sounds familiar. Oh wait... :rolleyes:

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Wonder why that developer name sounds familiar. Oh wait... :rolleyes:

He is with RealtyLink who is doing the Augusta Walk project at YWCA site.

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New mast poles started going in on Stone. I would hope they would be the arm style like at Stone/Main vs just poles connected by wire like at the Stone/385 interchange.

 

I also noticed they continued these down Laurens.

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New mast poles started going in on Stone. I would hope they would be the arm style like at Stone/Main vs just poles connected by wire like at the Stone/385 interchange.

 

I also noticed they continued these down Laurens.

Well my worries have been confirmed. No arms, just poles with the lights handing from wires. I feel like this was a missed opportunity to start the first step of streetscaping on Stone. Maybe its because this road is controlled by SCDOT which I think people have said before was a road block to some of the master plan recommendations.

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