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More Sprawl Slated for Greenville, SC (11/20/03)

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All articles are from the Greenville News


By John Boyanoski


[email protected]

Richard and Martha Davis built their house on Birdfield Drive in 1956. For decades, they had no neighbors.

That's about to change.

Their house is just inside the 400-plus acres set aside for an automotive research and development park to be built over the next 10 years. The plans call for the park to be built around them.

"I don't see any real problem," said Richard Davis, who would just as soon be surrounded by test cars as roaming deer herds.

The Davises face a future shared by many. Throughout Greenville County, dozens of single-family homes dot areas dominated by malls, fast-food restaurants, and multi-lane roads.

Such residents share a common story. They built their homes long before commercial districts sprouted around them like kudzu.

"It just gets down to private property rights," said Grant Cunningham, a Clemson University land use professor.

Even if a house appears out of place next to neon signs and big box shopping meccas, a government can't tear it down to let a developer build something new, Cunningham said.

City and county ordinances protect the houses even though the area around them has been rezoned for businesses. The homeowners cannot be forced to leave.

And unless the right price is offered, the Davises said they have no intention of vacating the little white house in which they raised their son and daughter and now enjoy visits from eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Jack Black, however, said he wants to sell his house that is practically buried on Woodruff Road.

He built his nine room, two-and-a-half bath brick house in 1954 when Woodruff was just a small, crooked road, he said. It's now one the most congested roads in the Upstate.

About 19,000 cars pass his house each day, according to county records. But the traffic doesn't bother him. He said he eventually wants to sell because the house would bring a good price.

It's in prime a location within walking distance of Greenville Mall. Black, 84, said he has received good offers for the property.

A group of investors offered $600,000 about five years ago, he said. The highest offer yet. He turned them down.

A former horticulturist and real estate agent, he believes that someday he can get $1 million for his three acres near the intersection of Roper Mountain Road. He paid less than $20,000 for it, he said.

Birdfield Drive, where the Davises live, is a far cry from Woodruff Road. Shortly after they moved there, a man asked if they'd be willing to sell. They weren't interested. The man smiled and said to give him a call if they changed their minds. He left without giving his name.

It wasn't until years later, they learned it was John D. Hollingsworth, who owned the nearby textile plant and built a fortune in real estate.

"I guess he figured we knew who he was already," Richard Davis said with a laugh. "He never came back."

Hollingsworth, who died Dec. 31, 2000, eventually bought all the land surrounding the Davises. It's the land that will become the auto park.

John Boyanoski covers the city of Greenville. He can be reached at 298-4065.


*hauntedheadnc sez, "This mindset is a prime example of why Greenville is going to hell in a handbasket. These people don't view houses as homes, they view them as investments, and if you don't have people who care about the place where they live any more than in its capacity to turn a buck, naturally you're going to end up with a fairly wretched place. People in Asheville would be incensed if their "herds of deer" were about to be replaced by cars driving around in circles on a test track. Hell, they'd probably be firebombing city hall in protest. But not Greenvillians..."*

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By Ben Szobody


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Roebuck entrepreneur Sam Shanbhag is moving fresh dirt on what could be $70 million in total land deals and crediting renewed vigor economy-wide for the uptick in his group of six Upstate business lines.

In Greenville, a 38,000-square-foot corner development at The Parkway and Parkway East will include a bricked courtyard, fountains and retail and restaurant tenants on 4.4 acres near Shanbhag's Parkway Plaza office building and Michelin North America's headquarters.

The 125,000-square-foot office space, for months beset by the failure of former dot-com tenant HomePoint Corp., has inked two more leases and will fill 63 percent of its space by February, Shanbhag said.

In Spartanburg, as much as $30 million in restaurants, courtyard shopping and meeting space will be added in coming months between Westgate Mall and Interstate 26, where a 16-screen theater and Hampton Inn and Suites are already under construction.

Shanbhag says he's opening the throttle on Pinnacle Hospitality Inc. and related ventures on the heels of an economic bruising that left none of them unscathed.

His business lines

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*And from the editorial page...*


I was shocked to read in the Nov. 15 Greenville News that a lawsuit had been filed to stop Travelers Rest from growing. Didn't this group of people read the results of the recent election? The people of Travelers Rest spoke through due process and said they wanted our city to grow.

Now the ones who lost want to bring a lawsuit against the city and do what they can to hinder Travelers Rest from growing.

Who are these people? Do they live in the city limits of Travelers Rest?

These are people who have nothing else to do but stand against everything that is good and helpful. Wal-Mart would be good for Travelers Rest. If it comes, there will be other solid companies to follow and this will help reduce our taxes and make our property values increase, benefiting all the citizens of our fair city.

If these people are really for responsible development, then they will put aside this foolish lawsuit and get behind the mayor and City Council and do what they can to make our city even greater than it is now.

Come on, people, the majority has spoken. Now be big enough to admit it and get behind the program.

George R. Hamer

Travelers Rest


*hauntedheadnc sez, "This letter to the editor is just so beautifully, perfectly typical of the average Greenvillian that I had to post it. Ironically enough, a letter also appeared in today's Asheville Citizen-Times condemning the city approving a Super Wal-Mart -- months ago. This issue is another fine example of exactly how different these two metro areas are."*

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