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Greenville Business Magazine

Real Estate Attorney J. Darryl Holland dives into mixed-use property development with Holland Park

Aug 07, 2019 12:55PM ● By Elizabeth Pandolfi

Holland Park, a 12-acre mixed-use development currently under construction at 813 Laurens Road, had humble beginnings: it began in 2017 with the purchase of a single acre by local real estate attorney J. Darryl Holland. 

After closing on that property, Holland thought he'd look into a neighboring parcel that was also on the market. "I thought if I could acquire more property around my initial purchase, then that would give me more flexibility in the future," he says. 

Once he made that second purchase, Holland realized he was sitting on a big opportunity. "I started asking neighbors if they wanted to sell, and eventually, every neighbor wanted to sell. And as I acquired more land, I saw I had the chance to do something really special," he says. 

Overall, Holland was able to complete six real estate closings in about 12 months, resulting in a 12-acre parcel that fronts Laurens Road, backs up to the planned extension of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, and sits roughly in between the intersection of Laurens and North Pleasantburg Drive, and the intersection of Laurens and East Washington Street, where Willy Taco sits. 

Once he had the land, Holland's plans for a family-friendly, mixed-use development began to take shape. "The first thing I thought about was that there were these great, 100-year-old oak trees along the road that runs behind Willy Taco. Those had to be preserved." 

Those 12 oak trees will be the "park" in Holland Park, a fully shaded green space designed to give people a place to relax and spend some time. "I wanted something where families could bring their kids, bring their dogs, and walk to the various places around Holland Park," Holland says. 

The park is part of Phase 1, which also includes Double Stamp Brewery and the Charleston-based Home Team BBQ. The other Phase 1 components: two shipping container restaurants and a three-story building with retail space on the bottom floor and office space on the two upper floors. Holland plans to move his law firm, J. Darryl Holland, Attorney at Law, to the top floor, leaving one floor open for another business tenant. 

The retail tenants haven't been finalized, nor have the restaurant tenants. But that's just fine with Holland. He doesn't want to simply fill the space: he wants businesses that will help further his vision of what Holland Park will be, which is a space where people can come with their families to enjoy themselves and spend a few hours. 

That's why he hasn't advertised the space at all. Instead, he's been reaching out to potential tenants personally and relying on word of mouth. Right now, he's interested in attracting a boutique bowling alley, similar to Stone Pin Company on Stone Avenue, or a gourmet grocery/food concept like the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. "I want the right tenants," he says. "I've been meticulous about finding the right fit, because all of these businesses have a symbiotic relationship. I don't even have a sign on the project yet." 

In fact, he's been so meticulous that when Mayor Knox White suggested he get in touch with Home Team BBQ, as the restaurant chain was looking to expand into Greenville, Holland was willing to wait six months for the team at Home Team to officially sign the lease. The chain was in the midst of finalizing their newest location in Columbia and wasn't ready to sign anything until that process was complete. "I didn't market to anyone else until I heard from them that they were ready," Holland says. 

As a real estate attorney, Holland is very familiar with the ins and outs of real estate transactions and development. But the biggest change, he says, has been cultivating patience. "Time at my law practice is measured in how many days it takes to complete the closing process, whereas time in developing Holland Park is measured in months and years," he says. "But I knew there was no way to define how long anything would take. Any given thing could take a month or eight months." 

Once Phase 1 is complete, Phase 2 will consist of two more acres that allow for buildings totaling between 14,000 and 28,000 square feet. While Holland is holding on to all the other buildings, he says he'd be willing to sell one pad consisting of up to 7,000 square feet. 

The final element of Phase Two is the acreage that runs adjacent to the planned Swamp Rabbit Trail extension, which he intends to develop for some kind of outdoor activity. "I'm looking for activities--that's the goal," he says. "I want this to be a place people come to entertain themselves and spend a lot of time." 

Whatever the final mix of tenants ends up being, Holland has done his research and knows that Holland Park will be something unique. "It's going to be fantastic," he says. "This will be something new that Greenville just doesn't have yet."