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Top Ten Wish List for Spartanburg in 2008

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Its that time again but I first thought it appropriate to review my 2006 and 2007 wish lists.

In 2006 my wish list was:

1. Another "something" for Renaissance Park. The Chapman Cultural Center opened in 2007 and the USC-Upstate School of Business Administration will open in 2009.

2. More restaurants (Chili's, Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, etc.) to join City Range at Westgate. Chandi's Bistro, Hooter's, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, etc.

3. Grocery store on South Church Street. Save-a-Lot at South Church Plaza opened in 2007.

4. A major department store to replace Proffits at Westgate Mall. Costco.

5. New development for the westside Lowe's and Best Buy sites. Academy Sports (Lowe's) and a fitness club (Best Buy).

6. More announcements for the Easton development on East Main Street. Somethings brewing but no brick and mortar yet.

7. Another major downtown office building. Phase II of the Johnson Development project on East Main is currently under construction.

8. Passenger rail service between Spartanburg and Asheville. Nothing new here.

9. Target and Home Depot in Boiling Springs. Lot's of strip centers and restaurants going up in BS but no big boxes to report.

10. Major announcement for renovation of the Montgomery Building. A new owner but no concrete plans.

In 2007 my wish list was:

1. More retail & restaurants downtown. Lime Leaf, Grouchos, Justins, Rock Water Tavern, Mellow Mushroom, Brasserie Ecosse.

2. Progress on the proposed road diet for E Main. It appears this will happen.

3. More mixed-use downtown housing (esp. off of Main St). Library Commons is currently under construction on Broad Street.

4. Increased occupancy rates for downtown office space. Can't quantify but Johnson's Phase II apparently means there's demand for Class A office space.

5. Another large corporation downtown. New bank on South Church and Kennedy.

6. More emphasis on City neighborhoods, city living, particularly south of downtown (Hampton Heights, S Converse) but also areas like the N Dean, Park Hills, and Overbrook neighborhoods. There's nothing notable to report here but Hampton Heights continues to attract new residents.

7. New stores in the Hillcrest retail & restaurant scene. Well, the Hillcrest Shopping Center has been completely remodeled but we're still awaiting tenants. In the meantime, the immediate area now has a Pizza Inn and, an old favorite, the Four Season Steak House will be returning in 2008.

8. More bike lanes around town. Spartanburg was officially designated Bicycle Friendly in 2007.

9. Solution to the Duncan Park Stadium problem. The city and school district 7 have partnered to renovate the old ball park for high school sports.

10. ANY progress on the Renaissance Park property (besides the CAC). USC-Upstate's George Dean Johnson, Jr. School of Business Administration announced December 18, 2007.

For 2008 my wish list is:

  1. Tenants are announced and construction will begin at Easton.

  2. The recently renovated Hillcrest Shopping Center begins to fill up with big name tenants.

  3. A worthy replacement for Abby's Grill downtown.

  4. Hopefully, an big announcement for the Montgomery Building.

  5. Another big announcement for Renaissance Park.

  6. 2007 was a big year for jobs (Adidas, Echo Star). How about another big jobs announcement in 2008?

  7. 2008 might be a bit too early but some sort of announcement for the old Salvation Army site on West Main.

  8. Another downtown hotel.

  9. An announcement regarding the redevelopment of the SE corner of Pine Street / East Main.

  10. An announcement regarding a new city hall.

  11. Renovation of Market Square that includes Burlington Coat Factory.

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For reference:

2006 Top Ten Wish List Thread

2007 Top Ten Wish List Thread

----

My top ten for 2006

  1. more restaurants, bars/clubs, and retail downtown

  2. more residential opportunities downtown

  3. businesses to fill the available space we have to encourage more growth

  4. the beginnings of the expansion of the downtown core (possible to the Harris Pl area and that flour mill?)

  5. ANYTHING that could indicate life in the Renaissance Park project

  6. More restaurants and an electronics store for Hillcrest

  7. the creation of a Converse heights Historic District

  8. the narrowing of E Main bewteen Converse and Pine

  9. more infill in the 'outer' regions of downtown (Kennedy, Henry, and N Daniel Morgan- all east of Converse St.)

  10. Something happening west of the railroad tracks on Main. Anything will do.

  1. Yes! Oscar's, Lime Leaf, etc, several other restarants u/c, 3 new coffee shops, 1 new bar proposed, a few new retail stores

  2. Yes! new condo's coming to Main St in multiple locations, new condo's u/c at Broad & Liberty

  3. Yes! new bank HQ across from the Library that is in a true urban design, Johnson building on E Main

  4. neutral- the Hub-Bub building is a success... The old flour mill property was purchased but nothing is going to happen as of yet. No word on

  5. Harris Place either.

  6. Nope!

  7. Nope! we actually lost a few retail/restaurants, and that Books-a-million never did come.

  8. neutral- Converse Heights wants to consider it now, but nothing official yet

  9. Yes! its officially in the plans... good enough for me!

  10. neutral- some on Kennedy, but not on the others

  11. Nope!

Thats:

4-yes

3-neutral

3-no

My top ten list for 2007

  1. More retail & restaurants downtown

  2. Progress on the proposed road diet for E Main

  3. More mixed-use downtown housing (esp. off of Main St)

  4. Increased occupancy rates for downtown office space

  5. Another large corporation downtown

  6. More emphasis on City neighborhoods, city living, particularly south of downtown (Hampton Heights, S Converse) but also areas like the N Dean, Park Hills, and Overbrook neighborhoods.

  7. New stores in the Hillcrest retail & restaurant scene

  8. More bike lanes around town

  9. Solution to the Duncan Park Stadium problem

  10. ANY progress on the Renaissance Park property (besides the CAC)

  1. Yes. - Imagination Station, Goucho's, Brasserie Ecosse, Rock Water Tavern, Justin's Steakhouse; lost Sandella's, Abbey's Grill, Hub City Grill

  2. Yes. We now know that the E. Main road diet is a done deal. Its just a matter of starting it.

  3. No. - Outside of progress on existing projects like

  4. I assume this has increased. No businesses have left downtown, and several have moved in: The Carolina First building is the best example.

  5. Nope.

  6. Nope. Emphasis remains the same.

  7. Yes/No. Lots of stores have left the shopping center, but it has been MAJORLY renovated. The Lan-Yair redevelopment is under way.

  8. Yes. Broze Award for BikeTown. Enough said.

  9. Yes. City & Dist. 7 partnering to repair stadium

  10. Yes. Group has been put together to build something on the site. USC Upstate announced new business school.

5-yes

1-neutral

3-no

1-unknown

My top ten wish list for 2008

  1. More retail & restaurants downtown with a new emphasis on historic Main St properties

  2. More mixed use projects downtown

  3. Large employer moves downtown; more white collar jobs in general

  4. Comprehensive Plan progress: public meetings, progressive ideas for Spartanburg County

  5. Master Plan & Urban Code need to be adopted with changes to height restrictions/LEED requirements

  6. Progress on bike facilities around town; especially bike lanes, but also other infrastructure

  7. Announcement for redevelopment of Main & Pine strip mall

  8. Announcement for Renaissance Park redevelopment

  9. Continued expansion of entertainment options, eg: Spartanburg Classic (PBA Tour) returns, more and expanded downtown festivities, etc

  10. Some more information on connecting Wofford to Downtown

Some of mine this year are based on the fact that we've heard rumors and read articles about things getting started. My overall goal for this year is progress on what we already know is going to happen. Plans are meaningless if no progress is made. There are lots of great things on the table... lets see something happen!

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1. Road diet of Asheville Highway from six to four lanes with planted median

2. Urban grocer downtown (i.e. Publix, Super Bi-Lo)

3. Revitalization of West Main Street westward of West Saint John Street

4. Additional multi-level upper tier hotel in Renaissance park

5. Improved retail options in Cedar Springs and Boiling Springs

6. Mast General Store-like store in Renaissance Park

7. Light rail transit between Spartanburg, Greer and Greenville

8. A major eatery in Renaissance Park (Denny's, Applebee's)

9. Bike lines on Asheville Highway

10. A town center retail/residential development on I-26 between Boiling Springs and Inman

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1-A complete renovation of the Montgomery Building to coincide with the new Upstate Business School and garage.

2-Adopt the master plan with the height and leed requirement changed.

3-Mast General on Main

4-E. Main Road Diet

5-3 or 4 vacant and delapidated buildings in the CBD renovated with quality retail/restaraunt tenants.

6-The Salvation Army gone

7-Any new high rise (office, condo, mixed use)

8-A Hilton Garden/ Hampton Inn type Hotel or a least a boutique hotel on Main St.

9-Library Commons to sell out and another Condo project started.

10-Minor league baseball returns temporarily to Duncan Park as a new Stadium is built on the old Spartan Grain site or Spartan Mill/Wakefield area.

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Question- do y'all think Spartanburg can support a baseball team to the point that the team would need a facility other than Duncan Park? Turn out to Crickets and Stingers games was always fairly low.

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Question- do y'all think Spartanburg can support a baseball team to the point that the team would need a facility other than Duncan Park? Turn out to Crickets and Stingers games was always fairly low.

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It makes me wonder, though, do Anderson and Spartanburg need to copy Greenville? Don't get me wrong, I love what Greenville has done with its baseball park, but having two "mini-Greenvilles" out there makes no sense. Greenville's new stadium made perfect sense because the other one was in a crappy suburban location on Mauldin Rd. We need to look to Greenville's leadership and take notes, but not copy. I'm not opposed to a baseball team, but with the popularity of that sport in relative decline, I have to wonder why we should invest in a stadium downtown when we have a perfectly good one in our own historic Duncan Park.

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Anderson and Spartanburg do not need to copy Greenville. They must aggressively add things that will bring in people, businesses, and growth long term.

The logic of Duncan Park entertains me. Leaders say they want a professional team to return to town. They favor the team playing in an outdated inhabitable location. They do not want to completely overhaul the existing stadium or build a new one in Renaissance Park as the necessary funds are available. Waiting too long to act on improvements sends teams packine (i.e. Stingers). Good news the stadium is getting necessary upgrades and will be used for high school baseball/softball. Will the facilities be enough to land a professional team though?

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I gave some thought to a minor league stadium for my 2008 "wish list" but did not include it because I don't think a stadium should be a priority for Spartanburg, at least in the near term. Don't get me wrong, I think minor league baseball and a new stadium would be great but a new city hall, filling up Renaissance Park, and more activity downtown are more important objectives.

I don't sense a lot of excitement for minor league baseball in Spartanburg at this point. I know some people who have attended Greenville Drive games and think highly of West End Field. However, that experience did not energize them to the point of advocating a team and ballpark for Spartanburg. Moreover, I don't see a stream of Spartanburg residents heading over to Greenville on summer evenings to watch the Drive play.

Spartanburg had minor league baseball for many years but the crummy condition of Duncan Park stadium and fan apathy caused the team to move away. There were years, particularly in the 1960's, when Spartanburg supported it's team, the Phillies, and actually led the Western Carolinas League in attendance.

The upside to minor league baseball's resurgence since the 1990's has been new stadiums popping up in small and mid-size cities all over the country. This has led to downtown revitalization in certain instances. But the downside has been teams jumping around from city to city looking for a better, more profitable venue. The Drive, of course, came from Columbia after the G-Braves packed up and moved to Mississippi. If Spartanburg offered the right incentives, I'm certain it could snare a team if it wanted to.

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But is baseball really gaining in popularity again? I wonder if its location in Greenville's West End has more to do with it than the sport itself? Maybe its reciprocal.

But either way you have to factor in that Spartanburg, much like Columbia, has three baseball teams already (not counting the various other leagues that play). Wofford, SMC, and Upstate all have teams. IMO Spartanburg's emphasis on the whole "College Town" should suggest that leaders promote Wofford athletics before other schools, since its in the city and near downtown. Greenville, on the other hand, does not have a D-1 college team in town, much less 5 colleges nearby (not to discount Furman, which is similar to Upstate in terms of distance from downtown Gville). The point is that there was a void that the Drive team filled nicely. Spartanburg does not have that situation. I think if we put more focus on Wofford's campus and integrating that into downtown, we could accomplish the same thing as Greenville, but make better use of what we already have while not duplicating Greenville. We could improve Magnolia Street as a pedestrian friendly alternative to Church Street and connect to Wofford via College Street. Opening up that stretch as a restaurant/college bar type of district would do wonders for all of downtown and probably the surrounding neighborhoods.

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But is baseball really gaining in popularity again? I wonder if its location in Greenville's West End has more to do with it than the sport itself? Maybe its reciprocal.

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I agree. Thats why I was suggesting that Wofford be better connected, so that they become "Spartanburg's Team" more or less. That way we don't take a risk on a stadium for a team that ends up leaving. We see what Greenville has and its so easy to say "wow I want that in my town" but I think we need something unique from that if we want to draw Greenvillians and everyone else to Spartanburg. I think Wofford and its beautiful, historic campus are the best way to do that.

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What if The wish list changed from a baseball team to an ECHL franchise in the new exhibition center proposed for the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. The planning process for the proposed exhibition center should consider alternative uses such as a venue for Hockey, basketball, tennis etc. I am not a die hard baseball fan, but I think that the long season and the number of games gives it much more impact on Cities than football or basketball. Greenville lost its team and the upstate has no ECHL team, so if Spartanburg could land a franchise, we could have the hockey team and Greenville would have the baseball team.

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The only problem I see with that idea (abou tthe hockey team) is that unless Spartanburg's team had a MUCH better marketing stratagy, and somehow drew from the whole upstate, it would also fail. Gville's team failed largely because of low attendence, and Gville county has about 150k more residents to draw from. And besides that, I don't see many residents of Gville or other upstate county residents traveling long distances to see a minor league hackey game.

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I tend to agree with that. I like your thinking though, spartanburgh. Its definitely an untapped market. But theres also the issue of the lack of popularity of that sport in the South. This is why I keep going back to Wofford. Spartanburg just isn't large enough to support pro sports of any kind except perhaps baseball. With Wofford we don't have to build anything that might be too risky. Its just a matter of making the campus feel more a part of the city. Feel free to disagree, but I'm convinced that is a solid direction to go.... that said- I'm always open to new ideas :)

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Here are a few things I'd like to see happen in Spartanburg over the next year:

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I have a solution to the Wofford conectivity problem and the problem with Spartanburg being untapped. The memorial auditorium does not attract the large groups and events that I belive Spartanburg and surrounding areas can support. I would like to see Wofford build a new colluseum for this type thing where their basketball team could also play as well as volleyball, etc. Kind of the same idea of Clemsons Little John Colluseum. Do you guys think this could work in some way? Add in a new mixed use development entailing residential, commercial and such on the Spartan Mill site, County Offices Site and the old Days Inn on N. Church and this could turn the North Side of Spartanburg around trumendously. Once these started development the condemed properties around them on weldon st and such on up magnolia would turn around also. The N. Side of town just has alot of potential in my opinon. What do you guys think.

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I have a solution to the Wofford conectivity problem and the problem with Spartanburg being untapped. The memorial auditorium does not attract the large groups and events that I belive Spartanburg and surrounding areas can support. I would like to see Wofford build a new colluseum for this type thing where their basketball team could also play as well as volleyball, etc. Kind of the same idea of Clemsons Little John Colluseum. Do you guys think this could work in some way? Add in a new mixed use development entailing residential, commercial and such on the Spartan Mill site, County Offices Site and the old Days Inn on N. Church and this could turn the North Side of Spartanburg around trumendously. Once these started development the condemed properties around them on weldon st and such on up magnolia would turn around also. The N. Side of town just has alot of potential in my opinon. What do you guys think.

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Thats an interesting idea. I think if it were done right it could work. Something similar to Littlejohn would be an asset, and we could probably draw in some larger acts. I think that its important to not compete with the Bi-Lo Center though. Where are you suggesting that this facility go?

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I think thats an excellent idea. I would like the City to participate and the facility could be used more like the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium when Furman played its games there. Maybe it could be a joint effort with the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium's proposed expo/convention addition as I had mentioned earlier for a hockey team? This would link Wofford to the City much more and hopefully add to the fan base for Wofford while utilizing the public facility much more. This project is already in the works and would make it adjacent to the current Wofford campus for easy access for students. It would also make the financial aspect easier for the Expo Center and Wofford, much like Gibbs Stadium was done by Spartanburg High School and Wofford. If Wofford played in a more public setting I think the fan base could benefit by getting Wofford away from its seeming isolated group of supporteres. It would also provide for the possibility of other sports in the future using the facility (ECHL), Which by the way I thought had good support in Greenville? I thought they only left because of problems with the Bilo Center. If Florence can support an ECHL surely the Upstate can? At the time the Growl was in Greenville, they also had Baseball, indoor arena Football, pro soccer, Pro basketball and much more to dilute the demand on Hockey there.

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If this ever developed I think the next part of this development should include a parking deck built over the railroad tracks using air rights. The Church Street side should be faced with retail/restaurant space on the ground floor and residential or office above. This would really connect Wofford to downtown while eliminating the great divide caused by the railroad. A skywalk could connect the deck to the expo center giving an added level of comfort and convienence to visitors. As a much later final development the other side of Church St. could be done in a similar way with added sidewalk space for the link between a newly developed County Offices site and downtown.

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^ Now thats a really good idea. I think that we'd really have something if you built a wide sidewalk adjacent to the current Church St bridge, and then put some retail that faces that sidewalk on the ground level of a garage that straddles the railroad. Then with that connected to an arena on the current county admin site... think of the possibilities :)

I'll tell you that the skeptic in me thinks that this is almost such a far-fetched idea that it wouldn't work. But I know that other cities have been able to build "up" over railroad tracks (Atlanta). So why not Spartanburg? We'd have to come up with some major financial players to make it work... and working with the RR company will be a nightmare (since its a mainline) but its definitely a concept that could work.

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I'm still working on my list, but I think it is interesting to see what our city leaders think in reviewing last year and looking forward to '08. It still looks like "quality of life" issues still dominate their thinking which I think is great. Plus there are several other items that they are looking at for the upcoming year.

Check out the ARTICLE from the HJ.

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I wonder if any of them read our discusison? The article seems awfully timely :)

City-identified projects to look forward to in 2008 (from the article posted by hub-city) are as follows:

  • Marriott to be sold by investment company to a stable owner

  • USC Upstate College of Business & Economics to start construction downtown

  • Parking deck at Upstate CB&E

  • RFP's for Renaissance Park development

  • Parks & Rec Master Plan implementation

    • CC Woodson Rec Center

    • Stewart Park

    [*]Skate Park on Union Street

    [*]Easton MarketCenter to start

    [*]East Main road diet to start in Spring

    [*]Downtown airport expansion

    [*]Duncan Park Stadium renovation

    [*]RFP for new city hall

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I am still hoping that the new City Hall will be a joint venture by the City, County, Spartanburg Water and Sewer and maybe even District 7. I think of all the proposals the article mentioned I would hope for a lease space so time could allow for the consolidation with these others before a really nice central combined building with most of the above mentioned housed there. It might allow for a faster move as lease space could be upfitted more quickly, allowing the current City Hall site to be redeveloped sooner.

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