Skip to main content

Greenville Business Magazine

Hartness Development Announces Crescent Startup Community

Oct 27, 2021 03:11PM ● By David Dykes

(Shown: Artist's Rendering of Crescent Startup Community. Courtesy of Workplace Architecture & Design)

By Donna Isbell Walker

Associate Editor

Hartness Development announced on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021, that it is creating Crescent Startup Community, an innovation district in partnership with Flywheel, Furman University, South Carolina Research Authority, and the investment company VentureSouth.

The new project, which Hartness officials say is the first innovation district in the Upstate, is designed to foster and support entrepreneurs and startup companies. 

Crescent Startup Community will be located on Poinsett Highway, on a seven-acre parcel of land that was once home to the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company and Piedmont Shirt Factory. Ground will be broken early next year, with plans to open Phase 1 of the development in late 2022.

The development “will offer opportunities to live, work, play, learn and innovate,” said Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development.

While Greenville is home to many startup companies, the city “lacks the large-scale space to conveniently connect like-minded individuals,” Hartness said. “Crescent will fill the gap of providing all resources in one central location.”

The partnership will allow would-be entrepreneurs to access everything from ideas to investment capital as they take their businesses from the earliest stages into the growth phase, Hartness said.

The site ties into both Greenville’s history and the Hartness family story, as the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company was owned by Thomas Hartness, Sean Hartness’ grandfather. 

The Piedmont Shirt Company was a key part of Greenville’s "Textile Crescent." Former Mayor Max Heller worked there when he first immigrated to South Carolina from Austria during World War II.

Peter Marsh, co-founder of Flywheel, a company that operates co-working innovation centers, said the Greenville innovation district will be Flywheel’s fourth location.

“The vision for this innovation district has been years in the making,” Marsh said. 

Flywheel’s first three regions have a total of 500 members who have created 148 startup businesses, Marsh said. Twenty-one of those companies have gone from the idea stage to a combined portfolio valuation of $45 million, Marsh said.

The innovation district has great potential, said Anthony Herrera, chief innovation officer at Furman University.

“It’s important that we create an innovation district that brings together resources and contacts for everyone regardless of their background,” Herrera said,

Connecting these resources and innovators can help solve many of the problems Greenville faces, from affordable housing to income inequality to public transportation, Herrera said.

Hartness said the mixed-use project will have three to four phases in total, and may eventually include residential units, but no timetable has been set for later phases. The first phase is 75 to 80 percent pre-leased, he said.

 “Crescent’s goal,” Hartness said, “is to keep the best and brightest, and their businesses, right here in the Upstate.”