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distortedlogic

Greenville and Peer Cities

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I don't think there is a thread that addresses this exact topic, and I wanted to hear some good discussion on this issue, as we have hinted on this in other threads.

Given where Greenville is today, the projects it has underway and proposed, and the general direction it seems to be going in; will Greenville "surpass" any or all of it's "peer" cities in our lifetimes (20-40 years)?

Our peer cities are generally regarded as:

Columbia, Charleston, Knoxville, Chatanooga, Greensboro, Macon, Augusta, Huntsville, and others that fit into this catagory.

So what does everyone think, will we continue to grow similarly to these other cities, thereby remaining grouped with them (in the same "tier"), or will Greenville actually start to outgrow or "surpass" any or all of these. (Given SC annexation problems, surpassing them in population is very unlikely, so I am talking about in other mannars; such as MSA size, "feel", attractions, exposure, skylines, etc)?

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This is so hard to assess, because it seems that just about all of those cities are undergoing some type of boom or revitalization or renaissance or what have you, just like Greenville. It's really hard to say which city in that category will be among the first to pull away from the pack. Greenville definitely stands as good a chance as any of the others though.

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So is it possible then (or likely), that Gville will be able to pull away from their peers, given that each of them is having strong development of their own? It seems to be rare for cities to actually move up in "tier." Orlando is an example of a city that has done so over the past 20-40 years. Austin is probably another example. Atlanta and Myrtle Beach may also be candidates. In the cases of Orlando and MB, they had huge tourist components which propelled them, while Austin and Atlanta had tremendous vision. Greenville has vision, no doubt. But it seems it would be very difficult for Gville to make the leap to the next tier. And Gville has largely ignored tourism when many of it's peers have not; ie Charleston, Chattanooga, etc. Other thoughts?

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This was posted in the Greenville Transit thread. I included it because it compares Greenville to other "peer" areas measured by spending on Mass Transit. I would hope we all would agree that what a community spends on infrastructure is indicative of how it will grow. Mass Transit spending might also tell us what an area might look like as it grows.

In 2005 the Greenville community spent about 27% of what its peer groups did on mass transit. Charleston is now up to over $7,000,000 of spending annually up from $2,300,000 in 2005. That $7,000,000 provides many times that of actual spending once the Federal Government's $'s are included. Chattanooga in 2005 - $3.6 million locally. This letter says that Columbia just got 43 new buses, some running on natural gas, compared to the 13 total buses that the GTA runs. Columbia has an annual budget of over 5 times that of Greenville - and they are talking about getting a better funding source. Knoxville has service from 6 am to midnight every half hour - Greenville is something like 6 am to 6 pm every hour. I don't think Greenville locally spends any more than they did in 2005 ($775,000). I know that the city and county are going to start running the buses in Greenville, but I haven't heard anything about more funding.

Poor infrastructure will discourage growth. Poor planning will make us regret growth. Most of the cities distortedlogic listed have real mass transit for tourists and even for residents. We're not known for our road maintenance or our planning of road connectivity. Who is planning for this future growth?

Here's a copy of some results from Knoxville's long range regional transportation plan meetings. Notice on Knoxville Transit's website, the system is regional and multi-model in nature. Will the city and county of Greenville run regionally or just in the city and county?

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You make a lot of good points.

Its my understanding that GTA was originally set up as a regional transit authority- which means it could cover all of "greater Greenville." Obviously it didn't do that very well- but it could if the powers at be were so inclined to provide funding for such a thing. This is one area where I would like to see Greenville take a look at other cities like Chattanooga and how they run things to see how its done elsewhere successfully.

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I don't think there is a thread that addresses this exact topic, and I wanted to hear some good discussion on this issue, as we have hinted on this in other threads.

Given where Greenville is today, the projects it has underway and proposed, and the general direction it seems to be going in; will Greenville "surpass" any or all of it's "peer" cities in our lifetimes (20-40 years)?

Our peer cities are generally regarded as:

Columbia, Charleston, Knoxville, Chatanooga, Greensboro, Macon, Augusta, Huntsville, and others that fit into this catagory.

So what does everyone think, will we continue to grow similarly to these other cities, thereby remaining grouped with them (in the same "tier"), or will Greenville actually start to outgrow or "surpass" any or all of these. (Given SC annexation problems, surpassing them in population is very unlikely, so I am talking about in other mannars; such as MSA size, "feel", attractions, exposure, skylines, etc)?

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Just curious as to where, or in what circles is Greensboro is considered to be a peer city of Greenville? :huh:

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Very good points indeed, Greenvillegrows (and good wikipedia quote)! The transportation issues you are talking about are exactly the kinds of issues I was hoping to discuss. In this case, mass transit is cetainly a factor that will hinder Gville's ability to surpass it's peers. Hopefully, the city has caught on to that finally, and can come up with a great system plan. If all these other cities can do it (and even Clemson) so can Greenville. This is certainly one area Gville will have to improve vastly, if it is to break out of the pack. :thumbsup:

Mr. Downtown,

I have just always heard them used in the same comparison groups, vying for the same projects, and landing many of the same entertainment options. The NC triad, and our "triad" (GSPA) are almost identical in population, both are large mail hubs, similar airports, etc. They appear clearly in the same tier as well.

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Just curious as to where, or in what circles is Greensboro is considered to be a peer city of Greenville? :huh: Are you referring to just city proper or the entire MSA or CSA? I would say Greenville has a better skyline, and in some ways feels bigger than Greensboro, but on a whole I would say Greensboro is on a higher level than Greenville. Perhaps not a huge gap, but a gap nonetheless.

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So is it possible then (or likely), that Gville will be able to pull away from their peers, given that each of them is having strong development of their own? It seems to be rare for cities to actually move up in "tier." Orlando is an example of a city that has done so over the past 20-40 years. Austin is probably another example. Atlanta and Myrtle Beach may also be candidates. In the cases of Orlando and MB, they had huge tourist components which propelled them, while Austin and Atlanta had tremendous vision. Greenville has vision, no doubt. But it seems it would be very difficult for Gville to make the leap to the next tier. And Gville has largely ignored tourism when many of it's peers have not; ie Charleston, Chattanooga, etc. Other thoughts?

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I don't know how Greenville would "fit in" with any of those examples (with some of them being non-replicable), but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have what it takes to move up a level. However, I think I can say that this state's model of giving huge incentives to manufacturers to locate operations here won't be enough to cut it; I truly think that the future, and any hope of having Greenville make it to the next tier, is going to lie with those coveted knowledge-based jobs. This is where ICAR in particular is going to be so important to the economy of Greenville and the Upstate, and it's already making a huge impression.

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Being within driving distance of Charlotte-Douglas doesn't do much for GSP, CAE (Columbia), or PTI (NC Triad), as Charlotte-Douglas typically has lower fares. I don't know what Greenville (or the other cities) could do in this instance.

At least the tourism plan seems to be sprouting legs. There is much untapped potential in that regard.

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In addition to transportation issues, I think the Greenville community needs to seriously address the way it approaches real estate use planning (zoning, etc.). There are a number of well meaning and justified neighborhood groups who consistently fight every new development. In my (humble) opinion, this is due to a lack of tangible evidence that Greenville plans its growth. Look at Woodruff Road, arguably the most successful retail strip in the county. Why doesn't the county give incentives for connecting development projects (to move traffic off Woodruff). Incentives don't have to be monetary. They can be parking ratio incentives, etc.

Why not encourage mixed use projects? In the city of Greenville, each zoning code allows uses that are more restrictive. For example, if industrial projects are allowed on a piece of property, automatically multi-family projects are allowed (multi-family is more restrictive). In the county, if it's industrial, the project can't be built as multi-family - it's not allowed.

Making the county be involved in every project makes every project less likely to happen. If it's less of an impact on the community than what the current zoning calls for, why shouldn't it be allowed?

Greenville County councilman are forced to weigh in on a huge number of projects in order to satisfy the squeaky wheel (developer, family member, neighborhood watch dog) instead of puttiing responsible planning in place and taking some of the politics out of the equation.

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Tourism and transportation seem to be the two major areas where our peers have outperformed us (significantly). That makes for an uphill battle to become the first one out of the pack.

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Not so sure I could agree with your view on tourism. Greenville's tourism has boomed in recent years. Should probably get some solid numbers from the CVB. While tourism can always grow, Greenville has done quite well for a city it's size, out performing most peer cities. Look at the numbers of tax revenue from hotels....up drastically. Winning the right for the US Pro, the growing Golf industry, the write-ups in magazines that have lured the weekend travelers from major southern cities, etc, etc. Greenville has been on an upswing as regards tourism. While Greenville hasn't added the cheap "amusement park" type tourism, it has most certainly added the upper end, high income type tourism. :thumbsup

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^But I think Greenville has been doing quite well considering that it doesn't have the history of Charleston or Savannah or the "eclecticness" of Asheville or the coastal location like Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach. Maybe the USPro Cycling Championship will grow into a much larger event than it is now and that will boost tourism a great deal. Otherwise, if the county sticks to the tourism plan it has outlined, I'm sure Greenville will maximize its tourist potential.

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As downtown gets better and better and the GO center is built, Greenville will have more and more tourism. The sad thing is that the city is still overlooked by many. Maybe once South Carolinians stop overlooking Greenville, others will too.

I was in Barnes and Noble today and, of course, I had to take a gander at the SC section. Of all the books on SC, I saw two pictures of downtown Greenville. One was of the Peace Center and one was an old picture of the Reedy River prior to Riverplace (two seperate books, one each). There was maybe a handful from the mountains and a few waterfalls... Maybe one day people will realize ALL of what SC has to offer.

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I can't help but think that some of that is tied in to the city's population. Of course, there is a science to including more people inside the municipal limits, but higher numbers do correlate with higher exposure to a degree.

Perhaps the city could start with a regional tourism focus, targeting nearby cities.

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Good idea Krazee, about the regional tourism focus. And Gville, the B&N thing has always annoyed me. It seems there are a dozen books on Charleston alone, then a dozen more of "The SC Coast", or "The Coastal Carlinas." Gville is always overlooked in these things, and I agree, that it is just hard for the majority of people to consider a city which population is only 56,000 worth visiting. I don't know how Gville annexed so little land over the years, but now it seems we will be stuck for at least the forseeable future. The only way for us to gain population then will be to start doing some ultra dense condo/appt/housing developments. We may never break the 100k barrier in our lifetimes, unless the annexation laws change. Population then seems to be yet another area that could prevent Gville from distancing itself from it's peers. For most people, if they were loking at pop figures for Gville, Augusta, Gsboro, Chatanooga, Huntsville, and even Cola and Charleston; it would seem gville is MUCH smaller (only a quiet southern town). It just makes it harder to get recognition, exposure, and attention.

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...

Perhaps the city could start with a regional tourism focus, targeting nearby cities.

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^Well then, it appears as though the city/county is definitely on the right track.

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Population then seems to be yet another area that could prevent Gville from distancing itself from it's peers. For most people, if they were loking at pop figures for Gville, Augusta, Gsboro, Chatanooga, Huntsville, and even Cola and Charleston; it would seem gville is MUCH smaller (only a quiet southern town). It just makes it harder to get recognition, exposure, and attention.

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I agree completely, gsupstate. :thumbsup: After having spent very little time in Greenville recently, back in town today I have been soaking up the pleasant international cosmopolitan setting none of our peer cities can sufficiently claim. A friend and I stopped into one of our fine Main Street restaurants for lunch today, and were seated parallel to a wall on my right (I was facing the window overlooking Main Street). Directly ahead of me, a group of five men ranging in age from about the mid-20s to the 50s were speaking German and having a great time. They paused more than once for photos of themselves and various unique items around the restaurant. After heading outside, they sat around another table on the sidewalk watching all the pedestrians passing by and taking more photos of themselves and our beautiful Main Street. Directly behind my table, another group was speaking Indian and having a great time. After finishing our meal, my friend and I stepped out onto Main Street and immediately heard more German dialect (by different people than the earlier group). While walking down Main Street, guess what -- more German, and French as well this time. A little further along, we were stopped by a heavily-accented Chinese gentleman searching for an open Chinese restaurant in the vicinity (it can be difficult on a Sunday afternoon). After helping as best we could, we continued our stroll down toward the Reedy River and the West End. As you would expect, there were pedestrians literally everywhere around Downtown - adults and kids playing in the river and fountains, people walking their pets, & etc. - a totally normal sunny day in Greenville. We soon reached the plaza in front of City Hall and ran into another group of German-speaking visitors. They were discussing what to do this afternoon, and one of them was studying a Michelin visitors guide. (fortunately the outdoor kiosk was setup with an attendant to keep the supply of visitors guides flowing) They seemed to be having a wonderful time. While touring the breathtakingly beautiful Falls Park on the Reedy, we heard a few other languages I don't know (a mixture of European, South American, and Latin American perhaps). We then strolled on down Main Street deeper into the West End, stopping frequently to peep into windows of new shops and restaurants wherever possible. Before turning around, we stopped by the Teamstore for the Greenville Drive at West End Field, picking up a couple "gifts." On our way back, we were again stopped - this time by a German couple with backpacks, asking if we could tell them "where the Main Street is." They were very pleasant folks and thanked us for directing them up the road they were already on (we were at the South Main/Augusta/River Street intersection). Arriving at The Peace Center a bit early for the GSO concert, we decided to sit outside and wait awhile in the pleasant afternoon air. The concert was superb as always, and we heard several rave reviews from audience members nearby our seats. On our way back up Main Street, we overheard French, Scottish, Asian (unsure which language), and South American (unsure which particular nationality) dialect.

This evening we are having a party at another friend's home on a lake in Anderson County, so I must cease this small "journal entry" (personal account) and hope you enjoyed at least a small portion of it. It is so great to be back in the "City of Love!" :shades:

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I am not disagreeing with you guys at all. My point about the tourism/pop thing was that (though Gville may indeed be ahead of many of it's peers in these areas you pointed out) not nearly as many people seem to know about Gville to begin with, as many of our peer cities. Gville just lacks the recognotion many of it's peers have, and at least part of that is probably due to the perception people have of a city with only 56k, compared to the 100k to 300k for our "peer cities." Funny you mentioned the Michelin guides, I just picked one up today for the first time, and I agree, this is a VERY good overview of Gville and the area. BUt don't people have to be in Gville already in order to pick one up? That is part of the point. People in other areas will never see them, whereas they have only to go to a B&N and find stuff about many of our peer cities. Just something to think about as our city tries to step up it's marketing, and tourism. But maybe in a few years, people will be able to find material on us at a national bookstore for instance. :dontknow:

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I am not disagreeing with you guys at all. My point about the tourism/pop thing was that (though Gville may indeed be ahead of many of it's peers in these areas you pointed out) not nearly as many people seem to know about Gville to begin with, as many of our peer cities. Gville just lacks the recognotion many of it's peers have, and at least part of that is probably due to the perception people have of a city with only 56k, compared to the 100k to 300k for our "peer cities." Funny you mentioned the Michelin guides, I just picked one up today for the first time, and I agree, this is a VERY good overview of Gville and the area. BUt don't people have to be in Gville already in order to pick one up? That is part of the point. People in other areas will never see them, whereas they have only to go to a B&N and find stuff about many of our peer cities. Just something to think about as our city tries to step up it's marketing, and tourism. But maybe in a few years, people will be able to find material on us at a national bookstore for instance. :dontknow:

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