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mallguy

Dinky buildings on Main Street: why not rebuild?

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As great as Greenville's Main Street is, certain parts of it are underutilized.

For example, there is a strip of very small, nondescript buildings on the west side of Main between the former Belk discount store building and Brooks Brothers--i.e., the northern half of the block just to the south of Brooks Brothers.  Those buildings have zero inherent architectural or historic value, are not fit for grade A tenants that are coming downtown, and are too small, limiting the amount of commercial space that is along Main.

Why not tear them down and build newer buildings that would provide space that could attract more tenants like Brooks Brothers, add more commercial space on that bock and could otherwise improve the appearance of that block?  That block has been sort of a laggard; it hasn't had stores or restaurants that really attracted a lot of crowds, perhaps in part because the buildings are so small and outdated.

There are other chunks of buildings here and there that could use redevelopment.  As much as I like historic architecture, some old buildings are just old, with little if any redeeming quality, and new construction that is in a historic style would be much better.

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I am not exactly sure of which buildings you are talking about although I am very hesitant to tear anything down and build new.  The architectural details that hearken back to Greenville's roots are geographic features that are part of what draws people to downtown as much as any water feature or park or mountain view (IMO).  I prefer a mix of old and new.  There are buildings from the 70's, 80's and 90's like the former NuVox building (and the GVille News building) that would make good targets for tear-downs and there are also plenty of surface lots on or very near to Main St that could be developed still as well.  I would like to see our older buildings preserved for as long as possible to keep the vibe/flavor of Greenville.  I like new construction out in the burbs (Simpsonville) much better than in century old downtown locations unless we are talking major projects like ONE and what could be in the former NuVox spot.  So I guess not knowing if those buildings in that spot have any architectural significance or features of a time-period of significance, my gut is that I like both dinky and grand.  Even if you tried to make new construction look old, it wouldnt work, you cant fake old exposed brick walls and hundred year old creaky pine floors.  It would seem more like a theme park than something historic.  If a national retailer is hesitant to take on an older spot (which I see plenty of on King St in Charleston and other historic downtown's) than I say great, leave that spot for a unique shop or restaurant.   

Edited by gvegascple

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The narrow facades and individual buildings are what scales things down to such a livable, pedestrian scale. It also creates a sense of place. I, for one, would hate to see 5 "dinky" buildings bought, parcels combined, demolished, and the construction of one broad facade. I can't find a single reason where this is a good option for Greenville. Invest in what we have, and build from that, not in place of it. Greenville can do better than that. Charlotte is a short drive away if anyone needs that kind of visual fix. 

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It all depends on how it was executed. It would not have to be a monolithic facade even if the parcels were combined.  Once the first 35 feet are set back the new building could rise to multi-stories thus adding density and uses. Plus even for the first 35 feet back, it could be three stories. It will probably happen one day but it is still possible to build new elsewhere for now.

It may be that these buildings still have some of their original detailing but it was covered over.  

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I have mixed thoughts. I like the new developments but sometimes it feels a little hollow. The stretch from the Brooks Brothers entrance to Piazza Bergamo on Main St feels empty to me. I don't understand why they didn't put more frontage along Main. I would not want to see another block developed with so little retail. That block to the south has at least 8 or so store fronts. Orient on Main is one of my favorites. If it was done right it might be okay but those big money developers can come in and bully the city into doing what they want and we can wind up with a dead block as well. I more in favor of that type of thing in places where the buildings are in pretty bad shape and not really redeemable like a few in the West End. 

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11 minutes ago, NBNY2GRNVL said:

I have mixed thoughts. I like the new developments but sometimes it feels a little hollow. The stretch from the Brooks Brothers entrance to Piazza Bergamo on Main St feels empty to me. I don't understand why they didn't put more frontage along Main. I would not want to see another block developed with so little retail. That block to the south has at least 8 or so store fronts. Orient on Main is one of my favorites. If it was done right it might be okay but those big money developers can come in and bully the city into doing what they want and we can wind up with a dead block as well. I more in favor of that type of thing in places where the buildings are in pretty bad shape and not really redeemable like a few in the West End. 

Once the old Certus space is filled, that would no longer be the case. Perhaps it can even be divided into two spaces.  

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The former NuVox building is actually a couple of older buildings underneath that went through a really bad modern face lift that combined them into one ugly box. I'm sure there are plenty of other buildings that used to look nice, but were "updated" by stripping off original details and covered in a modern facade.  The building at the corner of N Main & E North that's covered in the turquoise blue panels used to be a great looking theater.  In some cases, it's nice to see them renovated and appropriate details added back, like recently done with the former Ayers Leather Shop, but a lot are probably too far altered.  Still, the pedestrian feel and varied character given to the street by smaller individual buildings gives so much more visual interest than a whole block taken up by a single building.  I've seen a historic photo of the Sushi Murasaki building, and it was originally two stories instead of just one now. Might be nice to renovate some of these smaller spaces and add a second or third story as appropriate, but I would prefer that to bulldozing half a block.

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Great feedback, everyone.

I am fine with developing multiple new buildings to replace the buildings on Main just to the south of Brooks Brothers.  The new buildings should be at least a little taller than the current ones (maybe 4-5 stories instead of 2?) and a little wider, though.  I'm thinking a series of Georgian-style brick buildings with ornamented and attractive facades, just like ones that were built in Greenville 100 years ago.  The replacements could look like the other storefronts along Main--just higher-quality than the existing buildings on the site.  With the location next to ONE, I'm guessing that A-grade retailers would flock to those spaces (but won't now due to the outdated format of those buildings now).

I like old architecture generally, but old doesn't always mean good or worth preserving. 

Edited by mallguy

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1 hour ago, vicupstate said:

Once the old Certus space is filled, that would no longer be the case. Perhaps it can even be divided into two spaces.  

the Certus space is a good argument against national retailers are waiting until we demolish our old buildings before they come in. If that was the case Certus would be filled by now.  

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