Greenville Investment and Growth Continuing in Face of Global ConcernsApr 11, 2022 05:04PM ● By L. C. Leach III
Never mind current inflation, worker shortages, high construction costs, supply chain troubles, the crisis in Ukraine and Russia, or ongoing concerns with coronavirus.
While all of these issues are usually economic deterrents, the Greenville-Spartanburg area and other parts of the Upstate continue to show more and more signs of economic vibrancy, a healthy job market, and new commercial investment in an ongoing, growing area.
“We have unprecedented interest by new and expanding companies for investment and job creation,” said Mark Farris, president and CEO of the Greenville Area Development Corporation. “We currently have at least a dozen commercial projects across Greenville County, especially in the five municipalities. And in my seven years of being with GADC, I have never seen this level of activity and interest in Greenville County.”
Leading the way is the redevelopment of University Ridge near downtown Greenville.
Home to county government offices and services since 1985, this 40+-acre site is now undergoing a sizable transformation into an urban environment that includes a new $78.9 million county administration building, two central plazas, three dog parks, greenspace, multi-use trails and bike paths for nearby neighborhood residents, and a mix of commercial, residential, public/institutional, and service/industrial uses.
A 1,000-space, $24 million parking garage is currently being constructed on the site of the old Family Court.
“The new Greenville County administrative offices and parking deck are anticipated to be complete by Q1 2023,” said Mark Masaschi, senior partner with KDS properties and University Ridge redevelopment partner. “Demolition of the current county square building and surface parking will begin shortly thereafter, and construction of infrastructure will begin upon completion of demolition.”
The new infrastructure, totaling $37 million, will include roads, sidewalks, storm water, sewer, utilities, and landscaping.
“The entire University Ridge project represents not only $1 billion in private investment, but a hallmark redevelopment for the Greenville area,” said Shannon Herman, assistant county administrator, strategic operations. “It will return an expected $23.5 million annually in tax revenues to the community, having more than a $1.1 billion annual impact to the local economy.”
And Masaschi added that one invisible, future asset will be opportunities to recruit regional and national corporate headquarters as well as “some very interesting and experiential retailers not currently in the market.”
“And the public plaza and greenspace will allow for additional venues for outdoor dining and entertainment,” he said.
The University Ridge redevelopment, however, is only one among many in the Greenville-Spartanburg area that are contributing to a healthy economy.
Ten other major projects include:
• Adams Hill. Since late summer 2021, construction crews have been moving dirt and readying this 15.7-acre site at the corner of Haywood Road and Pelham Road, for 320 Class A apartment units.
The project is a joint venture between Dominion Realty Partners (DRP) of North Carolina and Virginia, and PGIM Real Estate of Madison, New Jersey.
Upon completion, with the first units anticipated to be ready in the spring of 2023, Adams Hill will mark the first green-certified community in the Greenville area, utilizing water conservation measures, local materials, energy-efficient mechanical designs, resource conservation techniques, and indoor environmental quality considerations.
“Adams Hill will mark our 34th green certified development,” said DRP president Michael Campbell. “We have been looking for a great site in Greenville for the past four years, and we really look forward to bringing this community to the Haywood Road corridor.”
• Transcom Worldwide AB. A global provider in customer care, sales, technical support, and credit management services through a network of contact centers and work-at-home agents, Transcom recently selected Greenville County as its launch epicenter for building a North American network to support global clients.
The company will locate in 33,000+ square feet at 650 Executive Center Drive in Greenville. The initiative is expected to create at least 450 new jobs, with future growth.
Transcom selected Greenville from an initial list of 125 U.S. locations and chose Greenville on the basis of what company officials called “an accessible and attractive area for clients to visit, a welcoming business community, and diverse economy.”
“We wanted a community with a large, quality workforce, as we envision that Transcom could expand operations here in the future to as many as 1,000 positions on a long-term basis,” said the company’s managing director, Kyla Starks. “We believe that Greenville is that place and that we can stay here for many years.”
• Clifton Mill Number 2. Once the site of a four-story textile mill along the Pacolet River a few miles northeast of Spartanburg, 30 acres of this property are now in the process of being transformed by Upstate real estate development company M Peters Group into a $60 million, multi-family development with 239 units.
The enterprise will include private redevelopment and public improvements, including a partnership between MPG and Spartanburg County to develop a trail spur, with a pedestrian bridge across the river connecting the site to the trail.
An additional 7,000 square feet of commercial space carries the potential for a riverfront restaurant.
Upon completion of significant enhancements, MPG will return approximately 19 acres to Spartanburg County as an improved public park.
• Grand Bohemian Lodge. Despite delays, this 187-room hotel set above Falls Park overlooking the Reedy River has reset its opening date for Q4 2022.
The four-story hotel will include 30 suites, complete with balconies, signature Poseidon Spa, an art collection curated by Richard C. Kessler, indoor and outdoor event spaces, and a two-story restaurant and bar perched above the park with views of the surrounding natural setting.
And materials of natural stone, timber and weathered wood, and generous expanses of glass views will carry the look and feel of a traditional park lodge.
• Diversified Medical Healthcare. DMH, headquartered in Greenville, announced in February plans for a $51 million+ investment to expand operations in Greenville County, expected to be completed by 2025.
The expansion will entail a 136,000-square-foot facility located at Garlington North Industrial Park, and is expected to create 185 new jobs related to clinical reference laboratories, medical supply and equipment distribution, sterile medical manufacturing, and medical software.
• Spec Office. Construction will soon begin on a new Class-A speculative office building in downtown Spartanburg, the first project of its type downtown in more than 10 years.
The 30,000 square-foot, $10 million building by the Montgomery Development Group will span three floors, each consisting of 10,000 square feet with the ability to divide up space for up to three tenants per floor.
Prospective tenants should expect a move-in date in Q4 2022.
• Verdae Development. Begun with a master plan in 2005, this 1,100-acre community development is an ongoing, premier attraction for residential, recreation, and a wide array of more than 20 business professionals including finance, construction, dental, legal, retail, and shipping.
Current tenants include Goldfinch Wealth Management, Chestnut Coffee House, The UPS Store, Carolina Center for Oral & Facial, and Southern First Bank, which is building a new five-story, 107,000 square foot, headquarters on seven acres at the corner of Laurens Road and Verdae Boulevard.
• Kostwein. The Austrian-based high-tech machine manufacturer was scheduled to establish operations in March 2022 with a new 92,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Greenville County.
The $8.5 million investment is expected to create 95 new jobs related to machines, modules, and high-tech components for all sectors of mechanical engineering.
• Bosch Rexroth Corporation. A global leader in the field of drive and control technologies, Bosch Rexroth is expanding its existing hydraulics manufacturing campus in Greenville County.
The $12.8 million investment will create 60 new jobs over the next five years, and the expansion is expected to be complete by 2025.
• Inland Port Greer. Extending the Port of Charleston’s reach 212 miles inland, the Inland Port Greer terminal has been undergoing a two-year, $28 million expansion since 2021. This new growth will not only bring additional rail processing, storage tracks, and container space, it will help ease supply chain issues by allowing IPG to efficiently handle more imports and exports of goods moving through the Port of Charleston.
• BridgeWay Station. Located on Bridges Road in the City of Mauldin, the 170-acre BridgeWay Station development will be built out over many years as a multiple-phase, mixed-use development, allowing for office, retail, restaurant, multifamily residential, a stage for performing arts, different kinds of entertainment, and hotels to all exist on one site.
Phase I alone will feature six buildings, ranging from four stories to 10 stories, and carry a total build-out price tag of more than $150 million.
More than 1,000 new jobs are expected to be created in just the first phase, and thousands of other jobs will also follow in later phases.
Now in the middle of Phase I, BridgeWay Station is not only the Upstate’s first town center, it is already being regarded as the wave of the future for South Carolina.
“It’s all part of the dynamic new Mauldin landscape,” said Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt right after the groundbreaking in April 2022.
And all of these projects, either planned or underway, are part of Greenville-Spartanburg’s continuing, developing commercial landscape.
But other factors, which have been subdued since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, are also regaining momentum.
For example, Colliers International, a global leader in real estate services and investment management, reported renewed interest in Q4 2021 among area consumers for brick-and-mortar shops rather than e-commerce.
The vacancy rate dropped from 5.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 4.2 percent during the same period of 2021.
The findings are partly due to the ability and preference of consumers to test or try on items in a physical shop prior to purchasing, an easier in-person return process, and the potential of delayed shipping, along with privacy concerns.
And despite the number of unwelcome challenges in both the U.S. and abroad that often threaten wealth and financial markets, Colliers further anticipates that the boost in the Greenville-Spartanburg retail market will continue throughout 2022.
“The Greenville-Spartanburg area is still better off than a lot of other parts of the country, and I think that’s because we are still growing at a fast pace,” said Lance Byars, senior brokerage associate with Colliers in Greenville County. “And regardless of what happens through the rest of 2022 with all of these issues, whether it turns toward rosy or bleak, Greenville-Spartanburg has a lot of economic momentum and opportunities for jobs, for both now and the near future.”
As a further show of economic confidence, Colliers Carolina’s industrial brokerage teams in Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg are representing Blue Diamond Industries in the leasing of a 190,192-square-foot industrial building in Clinton.
This location will establish a micro-dust production operation in the Southeast which will enable the manufacturing of essential infrastructure by providing protection of fiber, data and power cables.
Blue Diamond’s parent company, Hexatronic Group AB, is investing $18 million in equipment and infrastructure to produce conduit and pipe products. The company plans to have the plant fully running by the third quarter of 2022.
Whether all of this growth and progress in the Upstate will continue through 2022 and beyond is uncertain.
But Farris, a longtime veteran of commercial redevelopment, is optimistic, considering that the current economic deterrents are so far defying all the laws of traditional economy.
“I’ve been at this for 36 years, and in the past, any one of these issues would have been enough to stifle economic activity,” he said. “But the old rules don’t seem to apply. And based on the fact that it takes us an average of 18 months to work with a company in their location or expansion, the level of activity and growth that we are currently experiencing should be sustained for at least the next two to three years.”