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Greenville Business Magazine

Centennial American Properties’ Brody Glenn talks about Camperdown, the rising star of downtown

Sep 05, 2018 10:18AM ● By Emily Stevenson
By David Dykes

Developing a big project in downtown Greenville has been the hope of many, the vision of several, and the execution of quite a few.

Brody Glenn, president of the privately held Centennial American Properties, is among all of those.

Centennial is the developer behind the Camperdown project at the corner of East Broad and South Main streets, site of the old Greenville News building. The project, as proposed, is a mixed-use development designed to offer a fresh urban lifestyle that embraces the energy at the heart of downtown. It will include office, retail, and entertainment space, as well as a hotel, apartments, and restaurants.

Glenn said in an interview the project’s value will total more than $300 million, with other developers involved. It is considered by many to be the centerpiece of the new eastern gateway into Falls Park.

“When we started Camperdown, one of the questions that we asked ourselves was how do we make sure that we’re doing a development that’s within keeping of what the leaders before us had done,” Glenn said. “We wanted to go back and look at how has Greenville become what it has become.”

Even with his company’s previous work playing a significant role in shaping modern-day Greenville with the development of Fluor Field, the GHS/SunTrust Plaza, and several other projects, Camperdown stands out, Glenn said.

“This is dead center, front and center, and will be for a long time, and so we knew the importance of making sure this was done right,” he said.

He enlisted the help of city officials to gather old photos of downtown and looked at the big projects that anchored Main Street in the 1970s before malls drew businesses away.

Glenn compares that era with today’s rejuvenated downtown. The Greenville News building, which remained unchanged for decades, has been torn down. The newspaper staff relocated to a new building nearby.

As part of downtown’s rebirth, city officials invested in public spaces and private interests reinvested in the city center and “made those assets and amenities even better,” Glenn said.

“It’s not something that we do for philanthropy,” he said. “It’s something that we all think is important.”

Initially, Trammell Crow, the Dallas-based real estate development, investment, and property management company, planned to buy the Greenville News site. But the company pulled out, and Centennial, backed by an investor group, stepped in to purchase the property.

In looking at the project now, versus when development started, Glenn said the site plan, with its proposed buildings, is “exactly what should be done.”

But he acknowledged there are costly options, such as a plaza that will be more than an acre.

“We certainly could have made this development more dense, and not had the expense of the plaza, and possibly not had basically a below-ground garage,” Glenn said. “For us, it wasn’t all about what’s on the spreadsheet. It was about what’s the best way to do this for the project to be sustainable long term.”

He wouldn’t discuss specific retailers that might locate at Camperdown, saying announcements will come directly from those businesses.

He anticipates about 70,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, and restaurant uses.

“We feel like that we have to have breakfast places, we have to have lunch places, we have to have dinner places,” Glenn said. “We also want uses that are not exactly the same as what’s here today. There might be some uses that are similar. It can’t be all restaurants. It can’t be all bars. It has to be a mix of all of them. Retail is changing quickly, and there is a lot of risk in anchoring something with retail as the primary focus.”

Retailers have shown “tons of interest,” but “because of what’s happening in retail, we don’t want to take the risk of signing a lease with somebody that’s not here.”

Centennial says on its website retailers such as Target, Lowes, Walgreens, Home Depot, Harris Teeter, Publix, BI-LO, and Staples have secured locations in 10 states, including the Carolinas, through its licensed brokers.

Officials at Centennial also say Camperdown will benefit the surrounding area by redeveloping an under-utilized property and attracting additional residents and office workers to support local businesses.

In May 2015, the city funded the measurement of pedestrian traffic in the North Main, South Main, and West End areas of downtown.

The report found weekday morning volumes (8-11 a.m.) were “quite affected” by commuter walking patterns to offices and mid-morning breaks and by visitor traffic to places like Falls Park. Contrary to the post-lunch period traffic patterns in most downtowns, the afternoon/evening traffic in Greenville grew considerably.

Given the increasing popularity of downtown Greenville, that’s likely to continue. Glenn and others believe the Camperdown development will guarantee it.