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"What if..." (alternative real estate history thread)

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Thought it might be interesting to think of "what might have been" if Greenville's real estate had been built differently.

For example:

What if McAlister Square had been built downtown (in the core of downtown, perhaps among the parking lots to the east or west of Main Street)?

What if the convention center and Greenville Memorial Hospital had been built downtown instead of in suburbia?

Would downtown have remained vibrant in the 80s then, and even larger than it is today?

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10 minutes ago, gman said:

What if Furman University had stayed at its old location near County Square? 

That would probably have made that part of town a lot nicer than it was from the '60s through today, right?

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The Bell Tower Mall wasn't successful and  I doubt McAlister Square would have worked downtown either.  The whole point of a regional mall is that it is  out in the growing suburbs along major highways.  The acres of free parking would be harder to find downtown and if you did find a spot then the mall would end up separated from the rest of downtown by acres of parking lots.  Even if it worked it probably have sucked all the retail life from Main St.

 

If Furman had stayed in downtown Greenville it would have been better for Greenville.  Probably not better for Furman though.

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A couple of what ifs occur to me:

1) What if they had actually built the "downtown loop," which would have been a freeway connecting 385 and 185 (if memory serves). I think the idea was for the route to follow Academy St. How that would have connected to 185 I don't remember. I think overall it would have made impossible the kind of downtown we have now, if for no other reason than it would have churned up so much real estate (and old buildings). Whatever revitalization it might have brought to downtown would probably have been pretty different, though it's impossible to say how, of course. I'm glad they didn't build it.

2) What if they had not demolished the Woodside Building? (how many buildings can we ask that of?? City Hall; the Ottaray; the Carolina...). I can still remember it sticking up prominently above the tree line as you go down Skyview Drive next to Eastlan Baptist Church. The current Wachovia Building replaced it, but not on its site. It could have been left standing. When the Woodside was destroyed, it was basically the same age the Landmark is now. It would have fit perfectly with what's been happening downtown for the last 20+ years.

 

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5 hours ago, Exile said:

A couple of what ifs occur to me:

1) What if they had actually built the "downtown loop," which would have been a freeway connecting 385 and 185 (if memory serves). I think the idea was for the route to follow Academy St. How that would have connected to 185 I don't remember. I think overall it would have made impossible the kind of downtown we have now, if for no other reason than it would have churned up so much real estate (and old buildings). Whatever revitalization it might have brought to downtown would probably have been pretty different, though it's impossible to say how, of course. I'm glad they didn't build it.

2) What if they had not demolished the Woodside Building? (how many buildings can we ask that of?? City Hall; the Ottaray; the Carolina...). I can still remember it sticking up prominently above the tree line as you go down Skyview Drive next to Eastlan Baptist Church. The current Wachovia Building replaced it, but not on its site. It could have been left standing. When the Woodside was destroyed, it was basically the same age the Landmark is now. It would have fit perfectly with what's been happening downtown for the last 20+ years.

 

Woodside (SCN) building was probably doomed to go. It was not updated and deteriorating...a shame some developer did not come forward and develop it into something better (condos etc). It was a different time in the mid-70s. I knew people who disliked working there before it was demolished. 

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3 hours ago, cabelagent said:

Woodside (SCN) building was probably doomed to go. It was not updated and deteriorating...a shame some developer did not come forward and develop it into something better (condos etc). It was a different time in the mid-70s. I knew people who disliked working there before it was demolished. 

By 1974 standards, maybe so. But SCN occupied it all the way up to the point they moved into the new not-very-attractive box that still stands, so it couldn't have been that bad. At least, not as bad as the Poinsett was before it was resurrected. According to this description SCN bought the building in 1950. I don't know if they still owned it in '74, but a local owner would have been much more likely to preserve it. Just like what almost happened to the Wilkins house--out-of-towners (even if they're just down the road in Columbia) have no particular incentive to preserve stuff here.

I seem to remember an outcry when City Hall was torn down, so there was some preservationist impulse back in those days. I don't remember one way or the other about the Woodside Bldg.

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What if the GBraves had stayed in Gville? Clearly that would have involved a new stadium, but where, what, how, etc.? And to what effect?

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23 minutes ago, Exile said:

What if the GBraves had stayed in Gville? Clearly that would have involved a new stadium, but where, what, how, etc.? And to what effect?

We would have gotten that I-85 stadium at the Point and it'd be a terrible mistake... 

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2 hours ago, GvilleSC said:

We would have gotten that I-85 stadium at the Point and it'd be a terrible mistake... 

So we'd still have a suburban stadium. What would the West End be like without Fluor Field? I have my ideas, but I haven't lived in Greenville during any of this time, so what do you locals say?

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6 hours ago, Exile said:

What if the GBraves had stayed in Gville? Clearly that would have involved a new stadium, but where, what, how, etc.? And to what effect?

If they were still in Greenville, then they would have a new(er) stadium somewhere outside of downtown.  While it would be better in terms of talent and tradition, when all elements have been considered, I believe Greenville is better with the West End ballpark.

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On July 5, 2019 at 6:55 PM, PuppiesandKittens said:

How about:

What if Haywood Mall was never built?

Would downtown still have shriveled in the 1980s, with department stores moving to other malls?

Yes

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Overall, yes, but the downtown Belk closed and was replaced by HM Belk. As I recall, the downtown Belk was still doing a pretty good business in one of those old buildings where you'd expect there to be an elevator operator announcing every floor. Would Belk have maintained that store? At least for a while, we can presume. Maybe they'd have been a 3rd anchor at GM if HM had not been built. But all other things being equal, that end of Main would have still been in half-decent shape with Belk, Hales, Carpenters Drugs, that furniture store whose name I can't remember, First National, and several restaurants. The Poinsett was still owned by the Bibles and operated as an "old folks home," as we used to say, along with fairly regularly hosting high school dances.

Likewise, Sears closed their store on Stone, which J. P. Stevens then occupied as its HQ building, across from Northpointe. They'd have competed for space at GM. Maybe Montgomery Ward would never have come here. That bankruptcy was a huge blow to GM.

So P&K's question leads to the question: what if GM had begun life with 3 anchors: JB White, Belk, and Sears? But I guess that's more of a meta-what-if.

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Great points.

I see that the developers of Greenville Mall knew at the time of its construction that Haywood was looming.  I can't figure out why GM was even built: "Oh, so a mall much larger than ours will be built about a mile away.  Let's just build a smaller mall with dinkier anchors anyway.  Don't worry, we'll be fine." 

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