Spartan

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Pedestrian Friendly? Narrow Main St. from Converse to St. John? How much will this cost?

First, where are the pedetrians? Sidewalks already exsist. I usually don't see anyone walking on them. In that stretch of roadway, there are two mega-churches, a new office building, a bed and breakfast and a couple of banks. There is no land left for new development.

Spartanburg is a city of car-drivers. If you narrow Main St. it will discourage drivers from driving-through to see what the city may offer. It will not encourage people to walk. Take for example the huge sidewalks on Dunbar St. Ever see those filled?

Morgan Square used to be several streets. Now it is a parking lot with red lights. The flow sucks. I assume a good many people avoid driving through there now. Is this good or bad? I realize that somethings have to be sacrificed for design. The park-like atmosphere of Morgan Square is a lovely addition to downtown. However, stalling the traffice on East Main due to imaginary pedestrians is a waste of effort,resources and money.

It will take more than wider sidewalks to convince the fair citizens of Spartanburg to walk on city streets. We have been taught that cars are symbols of our personality, status, and freedom; not our feet.

You bring up a lot of interesting points, and some that are legitimate concerns for Spartanburg. What type of environment are we trying to create here? You are thinking about it in the right way in my opinion, just from a different perspective than me.

Here's my take on it- and I'll apologize in advance if this gets a bit long winded because this is one aspect of planning that I am truly passionate about.

  1. The cost IS an issue, and that will have to be dealt with at a later date as we know this to be pretty conceptual at this point. I would assume that we could get federal money for at least part of the project via SPATS (who I know to be in support of road diets).

  2. You ask where the pedestrians are, but the real question is- where are there places that pedestrians would A) want to walk to, and B) feel comfortable walking to? There is a reason that people walk around Morgan Square and not on Dunbar or East Main. The environment for pedestrians needs to be created before pedestrians will show up. I'm talking retail, restaurants, offices, condos, etc. Thats why I'm excited about the Eastern Gateway project proposal for the Corner of Main & Pine. There are already pedestrian friendly places along East Main, its just the there isn't enough room for peds to walk around comfortably.

  3. By narrowing East Main you will accomplish four things:
    • create wider sidewalks for pedestrians and outdoor seating for restaurants
    • create more room for on-street parking (thus allowing drivers access to these places)
    • create room for bike lanes to encourage alternate forms of transportation
    • create a more pleasant and less confusing driving environment for motorists

    I understand what you're saying about the church zone. You're absolutely right- we probably won't see very high pedestrian activity there with the 4 churches on and near Main St. But think about the area between Oakland Ave (Venus Pie) and where St John merges with Main Street. Think about all of the old shops that are there now (some are on South Pine too). There are some restaurants, retail, offices but its scattered around. New offices that Johnson is building, the Wachovia/Chamber of Commerce building, BellSouth, Converse College, Converse Heights, etc. Now, if the Eastern Gateway project comes through, you create an anchor to pull all three of these areas together. A focal point around which other development can, and probably will, occur. Wider sidewalks and more parking will allow the pedestrian friendly environment to emerge, and then pedestrians will be more likely to walk around and enjoy the scenery.

    My suggestion is this: Don't think about it in terms of NEW development. Think about it as REdevelopment. The Travel Inn, The Village Inn (old Ho-Jo), and the College Inn are all prime properties there that can be razed and redeveloped with more dense land uses that are more pedestrian friendly. So can that weird building on the SE corner of Main & Pine.

    By narrowing Main Street and creating a more "Morgan Square" like atmosphere in that area that allows for more people, more parking, and more trees, we have the potential to have a SECOND area within downtown that will be a hub of restaurant activity much like Morgan Square is becoming.

    [*]Drivers in Spartanburg who are going cross-town take St John St, not Main St. Everyone knows this. If you're going east you'd probably take Broad St if not St John. The idea is not to make people avoid downtown, its to create a downtown that is the destination itself. I personally drive through Main Street because I love to take in the scenery even though it probably adds 5 minutes to my trips. But when time is an issue, I don't do this.

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Thats good to hear. Condos never did make much sense to me in that location, I'm glad that has been cleared up. Magnolia Street would be a great candidate for a road diet.

BTW, it would be office space on the upper 2 floors, since its only a 3 store building. I'm glad that they will be restoring the original hardwood floors and rebuilding the grand staircase. This is a fantasic project :)

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East Main will be narrowed first. I've seen the plans for this personally myself. I believe it is a joint project by the Nobel Tree Foundation and another group. It will narrow the st down to two lanes with pedestrian cross walks and add angle parking on the sides with large planting islands. It looks and sounds to me a lot like the Lawrence Halperin design right up the road (Greenville). This would go great with the razing of both the travel lodge and the East Main and Pine marketplace. I have no idea what is going to go back in this area once razed. Lets also remember the second addition to George Dean's East Main Building. This area is ripe for development and I believe we will see it quickly. As far as Saint John St. it will not be narrowed, its the down town bypass.

Has anyone seen George Johnson's other project at Broad St. and Liberty? These condos are coming up rather quickly. Does anyone have any idea what type of veneer will be on the outside of this building?

Edited by Zebra

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I think the condos are stucco/brick.

Converse street is being narrowed right now from the CCC to at least Dunbar or maybe Main.It looks like their might be parallel parking on the FBS side and angled parking on the water workls side, but it is hard to tell right now.

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Welcome to the forum Zebra!

I think the talk of a St John St narrowing was tied in to the idea of relocating the bypass to Daniel Morgan Ave. I would hope that there are at least plans to do a streetscape type of improvement at some point. For being the main route through town, its not very attractive.

Did you see any timeframe with those plans for East Main?

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Looks like Imagination Station will be moving downtown to the sport formerly occupied by Oscar's in October. I didn't even realize that Oscar's had closed our tapas restaurant didn't last very long. Anyway, of all the shops in Spartanburg to move downtown, I really can't think of a better one. People will come downtown just to go to this store, so it should bring life to that section of Main Street (across from Denny's Plaza for those unfamiliar). This move is the result of an uncertain future at Hillcrest Specialty Row, which is being renovated and is supposedly being designed to court some major national tenants. It will allow them to expand while also providing a stage, a birthday party room and children's art classes to be taught at the shop.

Article in the HJ

Now for the dreamers out there... just imagine this extremely popular toy store with an ice cream shop just down the street.... I can see the families lining up already :)

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I was in downtown Spartanburg yesterday and noticed the second Johnson Development building on East Main already has footings poured and rebar sticking up. An article earlier stated that they already had one tenant so they must be in a real hurry to get this one up. I look forward to seeing the progress.

Also around 9 P.M. last night I was really surprised to see how many people were out downtown. With the addition of the new stores anounced recently I have high hopes of more late night activity and options for visitors.

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Johnson Development has bought two significant properties downtown with the plans to redevelop them into a blend of offices, residential, retail and restaurants. I say significant because of their locations. One is the Bank of America building on East Main and the other is the Broadwalk building. No timetable or architectual plans, but Johnson hopes that Bank of America will be part of one of the new buildings. This is another great step for Spartanburg. I just hope that all our effort downtown doesn't rely on one company.

ARTICLE from HJ

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This is great news. I've been waiting on this property to be on the 'official' radar for redevelopment for a long time! Any redevelopment will be better than the crappy drive-thru bank thats there now. It does seem like Johnson Development is the only one doing any work downtown. I think that until Spartanburg "proves itself" in the eyes of developers, its going to be relatively few people who are doing the work.

As for Broadwalk, I still hope that the City/County offices move there. I don't see why new ownership would change that.

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I just hope that all our effort downtown doesn't rely on one company.

Usually it's going to take a local developer to jump-start things. Once that happens, you'll begin to see more interest from out-of-town developers. I'm sure there's probably a Greenville developer or two with a watchful eye on downtown.

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This is an interesting concept. The housing authority is once again applying for the a Hope IV grant in the amount of 13 mil. They want to create the states first urban village developed by a housing authority on a portion of the Woodworth Homes site. Don't know how it would work but it is great to see our city leaders constantly thinking forward.

ARTICLE

Edited by hub-city

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I wish them luck; the amount of money being allocated to HOPE IV projects by the federal government these days is absolutely pitiful.

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Wow thats really 3 different projects. The most noticeable would be the razing of the Main Street Motel and seeing those replaced by a three storey mixed use development that would include "a small art gallery, with art therapy and art classes. The building would also include a small space for housing authority residents to establish their own businesses."

Then the Woodworth homes and Midtowne Heights developments would be impressive in their own right. These are all clear signs of the City's efforts to improve that part of town (which needs a lot of help, unforunately). Its sad to see those types of conditions right off of one of out city's major thoroughfares.

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The City just put out a RFQ to bid on construction documents for the E. Main narrowing. -Told ya so- I had to say it. As well as some other interesting work. Particularly notice the appraisal RFQ for 145 W. Broad St. (AKA City Hall) and Thier Public Saftey building beside Nautilus. This accompanied by the City looking for a team to assess thier needs in an administration building means they are moving towards a new city hall quickly in my opinion. Also notice all the attention around the Chapman Arts Center now. The new road, parking garage, and USC Upstates new building would be a great addition.

Scope of Work:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN The City of Spartanburg is requesting competitive proposals to provide engineering services needed for a potential streetscape project on East Main Street. The City has developed a preliminary design and landscaping plan for this project. The consultant selected will develop full construction plans and specifications based on the City's preliminary design and incorporate landscaping plans to be provided by the City.

Scope of Work:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN The City of Spartanburg is requesting qualifications from architectural and/or engineering consulting firms for design services needed for a parking garage that the City intends to construct. The garage is expected to be constructed near the intersection of Liberty and East Saint John Street. Full details and requirements for the Statement of Qualifications are contained in the Request for Qualifications that will be available on October 2, 2007.

Scope of Work :

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN The City of Spartanburg is requesting competitive proposals to provide engineering services needed for a potential road construction project to be built starting behind the Marriott Hotel and connecting to North Converse Street behind the Chapman Cultural Center. The street will include storm drainage, sidewalks, street lights, landscaping, and electrical infrastructure to provide power for public events. The consultant selected will develop full construction plans and specifications based on the City

Edited by Zebra

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Awesome. I'm glad to see that these projects are getting started. I can't decide which project I'm more excited about- a new/relocated city hall /county complex, or the East Main St road diet. Both have impacts that will be great for the city and downtown!

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I noticed that we have some shiny new signs on I-26 that point drivers to "Downtown Spartanburg" via Highway 29 rather than just "Spartanburg." :thumbsup:

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This is an interesting article in today's HJ. It touches a variety of issues and to me it raises more questions than it answers.

  1. East Main St Road Diet
    Will cost about $1.2 million. $400,000 dedicated from the city, the remainder is from private funding. Sounds like this one is moving forward.


  2. Converse St Road Diet
    $100,000 dedicated from city.


  3. High Speed Rail Corridor
    This is the biggest issue of the article because there was $1.2 million of federal money sitting out there "earmarked for a high-speed rail corridor of which the city was not and would not be a part." - Now if thats not the worst sentence you've ever read, please let me know. If it was indeed earmarked for the HSR corridor, what was it for? How can Spartanburg not be a part of the rail corridor when the line literally passes through downtown?

    But now read part of the next paragraph: "[The City] traded the $1.2 million, which the county could use at North Blackstock and Fairforest roads, a problem rail crossing that presumably would end up as part of a future high-speed rail corridor connecting Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C. In turn, SPATS promised the city $500,000 it could spend as it wished."

    So NOW we have the line at Fairforest and North Blackstock as a problematic rail crossing, which will need to be fixed because it will be on the HSR corridor.

On top of all that, the article sounds like its trying to create drama where there is none. So if anyone out there has some actual information about what is really going on here, please share. Its really hard to dissect articles like this one for what the actual information is. I hate it for the HJ, because this was just not a good article at all.

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The Marriott has been acquired by BridgeView Capitol Solutions, thus ending Arthur Cleveland's issues with the hotel. I'm glad this one is is dead. I'm sorry that Cleveland can't seem to get his act together though, because this hotel has done more to change this city than anything else so far.

HJ Article

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It is unfortunate about Cleveland. He jumped out on a limb and really helped start a boom downtown. Too bad he jumped alone. I hope Bridgeview can find a stable owner that can take the Marriott up to an even higher level..(landscaping out back, gift shop etc...) It is an awesome hotel now.

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Ezell Street is very nicely torn up. It looks like the street is being narrowed to accommodate outdoor seating for the jass club and the sports bar (or oyster bar?) that will be moving in there. I forget which combination is supposed to go in there. Maybe its all. If anyone can remember, please share :)

Anyway, here are some pics. They speak for themselves.

ezellst5.jpg

ezellst6.jpg

ezellst7.jpg

ezellst8.jpg

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The old Spartan Hotel is coming a long nicely. New windows are in, and it looks like they are reshaping the front entrances for a shop or two.

spartanhotel_06.jpg

spartanhotel_07.jpg

spartanhotel_08.jpg

spartanhotel_09.jpg

spartanhotel_10.jpg

spartanhotel_11.jpg

spartanhotel_12.jpg

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It looks like the new city hall is moving up in importance. We've discussed it for a while, but now city leaders say they hope to select a site and plan by mid 2008. For our city that's fast.

ARTICLE from HJ.

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