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Spartan

The Grain District

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I noticed a new business on the Grain District's Facebook page the other day. It is called Indigo Hall, and it is apparently a rental space available for events located on Ezell Street next to Croc's.

Indigo Hall website

While I think that a restaurant would be a better use of that location (constant daily use & foot traffic), at least the interior has been renovated nicely. I guess it's good for someone who needs a relatively small, upscale space for an event.

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I went to the grand opening of the Hub City Bookshop, Little River Coffee Bar, and Cakehead Bakery on Friday. There were several hundred people in attendance when I was there (and I've heard 1,000 people total). The community response to these new businesses was great. I hope that the momentum continues in the future. Here are some pictures I took:

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These are extremely high quality establishments, and they have a great synergy together that I think will benefit all three. A few thoughts:

Hub City Bookshop - As mentioned above, certainly less selection than a B&N, but has many current bestsellers. You won't have trouble finding something you like. Many of the used books are popular titles and a great value ($3-5)! I especially like the good selection of local books about Spartanburg and the area, and books by local authors, which is the point of a local bookshop anyway. Also, nonprofit = no sales tax.

Little River Coffee Bar - I don't really drink coffee very often, but the iced coffee I had was quite tasty. I didn't really need to add anything to it. The peach tea is also good.

Cakehead Bakeshop - Had a chocolate cupcake w/chocolate icing. Very good, especially the icing. Very creamy, not too sweet.

It was a great event, and these are wonderful additions to downtown. We all need to support these guys.

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RJ Rockers is hosting its first weekly tour and tasting event today. The cost is $5, which includes the tour, a pint glass, and up to four 4-oz samples of beer. The tours/tastings will continue each Thursday (5 to 7 pm), and there will be themed events in the future, according to the article.

Herald-Journal article

Edited by westsider28

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RJ Rockers is hosting its first weekly tour and tasting event today. The cost is $5, which includes the tour, a pint glass, and up to four 4-oz samples of beer. The tours/tastings will continue each Thursday (5 to 7 pm), and there will be themed events in the future, according to the article.

Herald-Journal article

I participated in this several weeks back when they had all the restaurants downtown on Ezell St. It was ok but nothing like say a Sweetwater tour in Atlanta. The one saving grace was that the beer samples at the end of the tour were more along the lines of 8 ounce glasses.

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Looks like they are having to tear the old silos down. I hate that because they were a symbol of the area.

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It looked like that to me when I went by there this past Sunday. Here's a picture I took.

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Anyway, that sucks. I thought the person/company that owned the site said they'd leave the concrete silos intact, back when they were taking down the metal silos. What was the reasoning behind the decision to tear them down, I wonder?

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Here's the article about the silo demolition. The property owner, Roger Snyder (of Snyder Investments Inc. and Snyder Electric Co.) said that the cost of preserving the silos could turn away potential developers.

Herald-Journal article

That sounds like a cop-out to me. There are developers out there who understand the value of an historic landmark like the silos and could have adapted a site plan to preserve & build around the silos. It's been done before in other cities. If Snyder had a developer lined up with a concrete project who requested the silo demolition, I wouldn't mind so much since there would be immediate development on the site. But to do so speculatively is asinine and shows a lack of respect for local history.

We need a developer with some vision and deep pockets, like Phil Hughes, to do a project in Spartanburg. Look at what he's building in Greenville's West End (). Affordable apartments like that in the Grain District would be awesome.

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A lot of people don't or can't grasp the concept that while preservation costs money, it adds value. This is an ironic situation given that Spartanburg has leveled most historic things in and around downtown over the years. You'd think they would have learned by now. It will be interesting to see how the Urban Code applies to situations like this. I hope they allow the City to intervene. The silos are/were an integral part of giving that portion of downtown an industrial sort of feeling. With further redevelopment, more and more will go away.

I also don't buy the notion that you have to do a whole lot to preserve concrete. It is an inherently stable, structural material- even more so if it's reinforced. That's why buildings are built out of it.

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So, a guy I know who works at QS/1 told me this morning that the three buildings the company owns on Ezell Street closest to Spring Street (the ones without the relatively new renovations) are going to be demolished. The lots will apparently be left as green space. WTF? Again (assuming this is true, but I trust the guy) QS/1 is showing no respect for historic buildings in our downtown.

The Urban Code doesn't seem to address demolition of historic buildings. Perhaps that should be added in the future.

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If it's true then that sucks. Yet another loss for Spartanburg. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if it's true. I heard a while back that QS/1 regretted not building higher because they need more office space.

The thing the sucks is that we would be losing a piece of history. The thing that's good is that whatever replaces those buildings (which will happen eventually) will have to conform to the urban code. So, we can be sure that whatever is built there will have street retail/restaurant space.

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That said, it wouldn't surprise me if it's true. I heard a while back that QS/1 regretted not building higher because they need more office space.

I was working for them while it was under construction. I left before they moved, but they knew then that they had grown faster than expected and wouldn't have enough room in the new building.

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Well, those 3 buildings on Ezell Street are gone.

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If QS/1 really is over capacity at the current building, I hope they build another building soon. An expansion building (maybe in their parking lot across Daniel Morgan) which follows the Urban Code and has some mixed-use would be great for downtown. Or QS/1 could build a brand new 8-10 story building and find another company to move into their current building. :D

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There's a very informative article in this week's Spartanburg Journal relating to the demolition of the 3 buildings on Ezell Street. Apparently, the buildings needed structural repair including the replacement of the roof and floor. Chris Cox, a QS/1 representative, said that they looked into renovating but "[...] the certification of occupancy was for office warehouse space. For us to get assembly occupancy and upfit the building, it was going to cost too much." (I quote that b/c I don't exactly understand the certification of occupancy designation. Is it like zoning?)

The article explained that an historic designation for a building only gives tax credits for renovation; it does not prevent the building from being demolished. A guy on the Historical Architectural Review Board didn't know the buildings were going to be demolished until they were being torn down (since HARB doesn't have to be notified). They worry about the Montgomery Building's future for these reasons. The article mentions that codes need to be enforced so building don't end up in disrepair in the first place.

To prevent these demolitions of historic buildings, the City apparently needs to create an historic overlay for downtown. This is an additional zoning layer that can designate one individual building or a whole area as a local historic district. This would protect historic properties. The Urban Code was amended with an appendix regarding historic properties, but it will not be effective without an historic overlay in downtown.

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How many folks are employed in the QS/1 building?

Maybe they can take over the ESH building (visually stunning inside and out) when they leave. The Cobbs could restore dignity to the place and have one of the other JM Smith companies move in their old building.

Well, those 3 buildings on Ezell Street are gone.

post-24605-0-80419900-1300993033_thumb.j

If QS/1 really is over capacity at the current building, I hope they build another building soon. An expansion building (maybe in their parking lot across Daniel Morgan) which follows the Urban Code and has some mixed-use would be great for downtown. Or QS/1 could build a brand new 8-10 story building and find another company to move into their current building. :D

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How many folks are employed in the QS/1 building?

Maybe they can take over the ESH building (visually stunning inside and out) when they leave. The Cobbs could restore dignity to the place and have one of the other JM Smith companies move in their old building.

QS1 is an example of a good corporate citizen. I was always hoping they would build another structure adjacent to their headquarters but placing one of their subsidiaries into the ESA building would be awesome!

Edited by roads-scholar

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Basically a Certificate of Occupancy means that the building meets all codes (building codes and zoning codes) and it is acceptable for the intended use of the property. A CO for a warehouse probably has less requirements than one for a commercial use since it's just used for storage.

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There was a picture in the Herald-Journal today with a caption saying that Indigo Hall is building an outdoor expansion on part of the space where those 3 buildings were demolished on Ezell Street. I'll have to check it out sometime, but to me that doesn't exactly bode well for any sort of future development of an urban nature in that area.

On a related note, it's a bit annoying to me that these types of projects just pop up with absolutely no notice. Don't they have to submit plans to the Design Review Board (especially under the new Urban Code) before building, altering, or demolishing anything? I think that's how it works in Greenville, as future projects there are always submitted and posted on the city website well before construction begins.

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They do. From what I understand the City requires those submittals for downtown, they just don't post them online. If you talk to someone at the Planning Dept, they will give it to you. It's public information.

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The West Main road diet project is fully underway. I hope this will spur other road diets. Maybe the city can reinvigorate the East Main (between Converse and Pine) road diet. There's way too much asphalt over there!

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(There are several posts on the West Main improvements on the Downtown Development thread. Maybe they should be moved here?)

The West Main improvement project has been completed! They got it done very quickly & likely under budget. Here are a few photos I took of the street (the first one is from a week ago, the rest are from today):

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Spartan, you'll be happy to hear this. It appears that the travel lanes are reasonably narrow, with corresponding crazy-wide median. I actually sent your suggestion of that to the person who e-mailed me the PDFs of the plans, so perhaps they listened!

Also, RJ Rockers just put their logo on the silo they put up a few months ago. It looks good. I'd like to see more stuff like this around town.

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Big improvement. Now if we can get the unsightly power lines removed!

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The power lines should have gone underground first!! I would also have liked to have seen the old sign post and base on the corner of Daniel Morgan and W. Main removed to clean up the corner, but

thats a perfect world and I think we had better be happy with the improvement that we got.

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Several business leaders are bringing a technology incubator to the 7,000 sq ft one-story space beside Hub-Bub.  It's called The Iron Yard, and it's headed by Peter Barth, who already has a facility like this in Greenville.  Ours will focus on technology for the healthcare industry.  Companies apply, and those accepted get $20,000 of seed money and have 3-months to work on their ideas before making a pitch to investors.  They'll also host technology classes for kids.

 

Herald-Journal article

 

I'm super excited about this.  I feel like Spartanburg is lagging when it comes to the technology industry.  Places like Greenville and Durham, NC have really embraced tech start-ups, and it's positively impacted their economies.  I hope this can begin doing the same here.

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Wow, that's a great concept. I hope it is successful!

 

On a separate issue - is there any news on what is to happen with the old grain mill site?

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Apparently, a (temporary) ferris wheel is coming to the Grain District.  Like the ice skating rink, it's funded by a private donor and there will be an admission fee to ride.  The ferris wheel is expected to be set up soon and be there for about a month.  This has yet to be confirmed by the City.

 

Sounds like fun!  Should have some cool views from the top (depending on its size and location).

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