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Possible Morgan Square Changes


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What's everyone's opinion on the possibility of a Morgan Square revamp?

I'm a bit concerned about the lack of true public input so far.  Only small groups, rather than the general public, have weighed in so far.  And it's being led by the Chamber, which has eyes only on $$ rather than the best interests of all citizens.  Also, some of their data is clearly wrong.  Only 9 events on the Square each year?  Music on Main and Jazz on the Square alone account for ~2 dozen individual events.  Skating on the Square is 30+ days.  The list goes on.

IMO, the main improvements I'd like for Morgan Square would be:

--Do more to slow down cars and prioritize pedestrians (even on Church St ideally, though that requires fighting SCDOT)

--Open the lobby of One Morgan Square so people can walk directly through from the Magnolia deck to the Square

--Add ground-floor restaurant/retail spaces to One Morgan Square

--Plant more resilient grass on the Square; otherwise replace it with artificial turf or hardscaping

Thoughts?

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Closing off Morgan Square to vehicular traffic makes a LOT of sense to me.  What I've noticed is that much of the congestion is from people looking for elusive parking spots.  Most thru traffic avoids

Spartanburg is one of those cities, too. The Main Street Mall from Church to Converse St was part of why downtown struggled so much in the 70s-80s (along with the national trend toward suburbia). Pede

City Council voted 4-3 tonight to keep West Main at Morgan Square closed to vehicular traffic for the rest of the summer.  The issue will be revisited in August. I think this is the right choice.

-Get rid of the cut through Street (Dunbar) and add pedestrian activity there......

Take Church St. down and under from Nautilus to the BTC and add public space on top.  The elevation will work

for this and Church St. becomes a no factor for E/W movement. Main St. can stay as it is. Boston had the big dig,

Spartanburg could have this little dig to really improve the Church St. barrier.

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I attended a chamber meeting regarding this topic earlier in the week and...

  • It was generally agreed that the number of events (9) was way too short.  However, there was some confusion over (1) permitted events, and (2) events on private property.  The chamber has promised to look into this discrepancy.
  • The consultant was focused only on the need to increase the capacity of Morgan Square.   He is not a designer or traffic engineer.
  • Most also felt that the city needs to do a better job "programming" events.  In other words, a better mix of events and better scheduling.  
  • Many attendees felt that Barnet Park is underutilized.  However, the park is presently too far removed from commercial activity. 
  • Morgan Square and downtown in general were identified by One Spartanburg respondents (3,180 people) as the places that need the most focus.  
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Dunbar needs to go and be replaced with some brick pavers and flower beds/grass. I can't say that I have ever had an issue crossing Church Street in this area and have never felt unsafe doing so. There are 3 crossings from the Palmetto Loft side of Church into the Morgan Square triangle....I think if the button to change the light for pedestrians was reworked a little to make it a faster response it would be fine. (The idea of going underground with Church made me laugh but in a good way). I think if One Morgan could be prevailed upon to make the grassy end of its lot near Church Street more of a square (wider sidewalks, put the fountain back, plant  a tree or two) that paired with the plaza on the other end make two good connections from the parking deck to Morgan Square.  The grass in Morgan Squre seems to hold up pretty well over all considering we dig it up  every year to put in an Ice Rink and then replant it. Id much rather have real grass than fake stuff but do wonder if moving the Ice Rink down a bit the the green area just past Spring Street would be better. 

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Does Morgan Square need to be an "event venue" to be successful, or can it be improved in such a way as to be a more popular passive gathering space?  I think something as simple as tables & chairs (rather than just benches) would help, as people could eat lunch there, etc.

I don't think any money should be spent to close Dunbar because: 1 - It's so often closed anyway; 2 - It's very lightly traveled even when open, so it's not a barrier; 3 - There's nothing on Dunbar to attract people, hence why 1MS should provide retail/restaurant space. (1MS currently has 12700 sq ft available including 4700 on the ground floor; convert some to retail/restaurant!)

Church has plenty of crossings, but it's still uncomfortable.  Enforcement would help a lot to stop cars speeding, blocking crosswalks, etc.

@sptgguy The grass was fine for years, but this past year it was very bad / patchy all year.

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Wall street was clsoed off to be a festival street. the events I have attended that encompass Wall st Spring St and the Grassy area next to the HJ parking lot seen=m to work well.  The problem I have with chairs and table in the Square would be clean up. I can see it creating a mess very fast.

 

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20 hours ago, Historyguy said:

I am very curious as to where that $12 million figure came from.  Especially if they are saying there aren't any real plans.  That doesn't make any sense.  $12 million is a lot of money for demo and construction.  

Also, where would the $12M in funding come from?  If the Chamber has significant cash lying around, I'd prefer they contribute toward a spec office building (public-private partnership) to attract a white-collar company.

Edit: or West Main streetscaping, or East Main road diet, etc, etc.

Edited by westsider28
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This is definitely worthy of its own topic.

 

I would be interested to know what the proposed improvements are.  I see both sides of the discussion. I think Morgan Square is generally well designed, however, there are ways to improve it. Dunbar St (and 1 Morgan Square) is basically dead weight in downtown. As others have mentioned - if you remove Dunbar and expand the surface area of the square to connect to the sidewalk in front of 1 Morgan Square, which would add a ton of space to the Square. Or, you could design Dunbar like Wall Street, and use it on event days for food trucks and what not. I would also remove the fencing around the narrow part of the square. Along with adjusting the surface level so there isn't a wall on the Dunbar side of the square (raising up Dunbar to the Square's elevation), there are lots of options that would add usable square footage to the square.

 

I would want to see more info on this idea... but I will say that I I got my pick I'd rather see it invested in another part of downtown.

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

Looks like we've got a face-off between restaurants and retailers on the future of Morgan Square / West Main Street.  A group of restaurants and bars wants the street permanently closed and Morgan Square redesigned, while retailers want the street permanently reopened.  A few City Council members have suggested a compromise where the street is closed on weekends, but neither side really likes that idea.  So we're at a stalemate.  City Council will likely take up the issue in the next few weeks.

The restaurants outnumber the retailers and definitely have a bigger economic impact.  Personally, I'd lean toward permanently closing the street.  Morgan Square has felt much safer, less noisy, and more lively with the street closed.  I see WAY more families with kids than before.  I think it would be the best move long-term to increase the vibrancy and livability of downtown.  We'll see how this plays out.  Definitely contact your City Council member to make your preference known. 

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Yes, PLEASE close the roads permanently and recreate/redesign the Square into a true destination for local residents and out-of-town guests.  Spartanburg needs something unique to convert the "drive-thru-only" visitors from surrounding communities into guests enjoying a full day or two in town.  Nothing gimmicky and no publicly funded props to artificially fill space or create the illusion of successful business.  It should be an authentic signature destination that cannot be mistaken for any other small Southern city, and Morgan Square seems like the perfect location.

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I’m against closing off the street to vehicular traffic. Several cities throughout the country have tried closing off their Main Street and making it pedestrian only. The vast majority of these endeavors have failed miserably. Denver is a rare exception. There is a very good reason why Greenville and Charleston haven’t gone this route.

Edited by gman430
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Closing off Morgan Square to vehicular traffic makes a LOT of sense to me.  What I've noticed is that much of the congestion is from people looking for elusive parking spots.  Most thru traffic avoids the square altogether and uses other streets.   With the right planning more cars can be directed around the square   

I want Morgan Square to be a gathering place for families and not choked with cars.   Eliminating streets opens up places for people to hang out and more space for outdoor events.  Let's  make Spartanburg unique.  

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Something similar to Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont, would be nice.  However, I am envisioning a more unique and attractive place, with some of the very best elements found elsewhere (pedestrian streets, urban parks, plazas, creative spaces, etc.) combined into a dynamic central hub in the heart of Spartanburg.

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Closing Dunbar Street from North Church Street to Magnolia Street is past due.  The block is closed off whenever any event is occurring at Morgan Square.

1 hour ago, Skyliner said:

Something similar to Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont, would be nice.  However, I am envisioning a more unique and attractive place, with some of the very best elements found elsewhere (pedestrian streets, urban parks, plazas, creative spaces, etc.) combined into a dynamic central hub in the heart of Spartanburg.

I would not mind seeing a similar concept to East Main Street from Church Street to Converse Street.

Dunbar Street and East Broad Street can provide circumnavigation around this area.  East Broad Street from South Church Street to South Converse Street could be revamped for two lanes eastbound traffic as Dunbar Street is two lanes westbound traffic north of East Main Street.

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5 hours ago, gman430 said:

I’m against closing off the street to vehicular traffic. Several cities throughout the country have tried closing off their Main Street and making it pedestrian only. The vast majority of these endeavors have failed miserably. Denver is a rare exception. There is a very good reason why Greenville and Charleston haven’t gone this route.

Spartanburg is one of those cities, too. The Main Street Mall from Church to Converse St was part of why downtown struggled so much in the 70s-80s (along with the national trend toward suburbia). Pedestrian-only areas make sense under the right conditions - just look at any European city. You just need a critical mass of pedestrians. IMO, Greenville could, hypothetically, convert their entire Main Street (in downtown, not West End) to a pedestrian-only street and it would work well. I'm not convinced that Spartanburg has reached that point, but if it has, Morgan Square is the place where it could happen. I don't think it would work anywhere else.

I fall more in the "stay open" side, but with compromise built in by design. Redesign the Square to include a woonerf-style "festival" street like in Greer that is clearly intended for pedestrians, that doesn't preclude SLOW vehicular access, and that can be easily closed to create a larger plaza across the square when needed. 

I do think, however, if they close the street permanently, that the Square will be ok. 

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8 minutes ago, gman430 said:

Maybe something like what they’re doing to Field Street in Greenville would work well with Morgan Square in Spartanburg: 

https://gvltoday.6amcity.com/jackson-way-greenville-sc/

I see much more potential at Morgan Square.  Perhaps a portion of the square could be utilized for similar purposes, but it is wider than Field Street/Jackson Way, and it is (or should be) the centerpiece of pedestrian activity in Spartanburg.  Jackson Way will become another node of pedestrian activity in Greenville, but never the centerpiece.

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On 3/19/2021 at 6:41 AM, gman430 said:

Maybe something like what they’re doing to Field Street in Greenville would work well with Morgan Square in Spartanburg: 

https://gvltoday.6amcity.com/jackson-way-greenville-sc/

 

On 3/19/2021 at 6:55 AM, Skyliner said:

I see much more potential at Morgan Square.  Perhaps a portion of the square could be utilized for similar purposes, but it is wider than Field Street/Jackson Way, and it is (or should be) the centerpiece of pedestrian activity in Spartanburg.  Jackson Way will become another node of pedestrian activity in Greenville, but never the centerpiece.

 

I think Field Street is a good example of what I'm talking about for Main Street itself, between Liberty and Church specifically. I agree that the larger square needs to be included / factored into the design concept somehow. The context isn't the same, but the concept is certainly relevant.

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  • 4 weeks later...

City Council voted 4-3 tonight to keep West Main at Morgan Square closed to vehicular traffic for the rest of the summer.  The issue will be revisited in August.

I think this is the right choice.  I'm baffled by the objections by East Main businesses who feel like they're getting less car traffic (but also more cars parking?) and that's supposedly hurting their business.  If passing cars mean that much to you, why are you downtown?  I encourage you to read the previous stories on this issue if you haven't already (Petition to reopen, Redesign Morgan Square, City Manager addresses concerns).  I'm definitely on the side of closed/redesigned square.  Pedestrians must come first in the heart of downtown.

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21 hours ago, westsider28 said:

City Council voted 4-3 tonight to keep West Main at Morgan Square closed to vehicular traffic for the rest of the summer.  The issue will be revisited in August.

I think this is the right choice.  I'm baffled by the objections by East Main businesses who feel like they're getting less car traffic (but also more cars parking?) and that's supposedly hurting their business.  If passing cars mean that much to you, why are you downtown?  I encourage you to read the previous stories on this issue if you haven't already (Petition to reopen, Redesign Morgan Square, City Manager addresses concerns).  I'm definitely on the side of closed/redesigned square.  Pedestrians must come first in the heart of downtown.

I see this as the right choice too.  

I keep reading comments from folks who conflate the closing of Morgan Square to automobiles to the Main Street Mall of the 70's and 80's.   I don't understand this line of reasoning.  

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What dont you understand?  Closing off traffic flow for the more pedestrian friendlyMSM killed downtown. Now they want to shut down Morgan Square to vehicles, thus routing them again down Broad or St John street.  If people are not driving on Main Street they can not see new developments and out of sight out of mind. We have to remember that not everyone keeps up with what is happening downtown like we do.   I Personally see this as a problem for those coming West to East but that may be because that is when I travel down Main street, If I'm going east to west I usually take St  John.   They say closing the Square has increased pedestrian traffic, I would like to know if that is only on the Square or if they have counted the pedestrian traffic east of Church. My bet is that traffic has slowed because of the clousure, though I may be wrong. 

 

Edited by djh1963
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13 hours ago, djh1963 said:

What dont you understand?  Closing off traffic flow for the more pedestrian friendlyMSM killed downtown. Now they want to shut down Morgan Square to vehicles, thus routing them again down Broad or St John street.  If people are not driving on Main Street they can not see new developments and out of sight out of mind. We have to remember that not everyone keeps up with what is happening downtown like we do.   I Personally see this as a problem for those coming West to East but that may be because that is when I travel down Main street, If I'm going east to west I usually take St  John.   They say closing the Square has increased pedestrian traffic, I would like to know if that is only on the Square or if they have counted the pedestrian traffic east of Church. My bet is that traffic has slowed because of the clousure, though I may be wrong. 

The Main Street Mall did NOT kill downtown.  That's a common misconception.  National trends of suburbanization killed downtown at that time.  It would have died, MSM or not.

Time and context matters.  If something didn't work 40 years ago, it doesn't mean it will NEVER work.  So much has changed, nationally and locally, with the resurgence of downtowns and the increased awareness of the importance of place and of local restaurants and businesses.  Downtowns aren't like the suburbs where you go directly to a specific store/restaurant, or drive around looking for something.  You go downtown to go downtown, knowing there's a variety of selections close together.  Park once and walk around.  Explore on foot.

Also, Morgan Square lends itself better to being pedestrianized because it's a square, rather than just a street.  The large open area is much more conducive to events and gatherings (formal and informal).  But I'm not actually wedded to a permanent shutdown to cars.  I'd be okay with a redesign that puts pedestrians first and drastically slows cars.  And I'd be fine with temporary, weekend shutdowns.

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