From 2010 to 2016, Greenville’s population jumped nearly 10,000 people, making it the fourth fastest growing city in the nation, according to a new Census Report. Behind the formerly named Pleasantburg, the three Texas suburbs of Conroe, Frisco, and McKinney, two of which are Dallas suburbs while the other’s a Houston area town.
But while it’s great to be ranked the fourth fastest, is that a good thing, a bad thing, or a sign that we’ve done an awful lot right, but we can’t rest on our laurels as even more development comes to Greenville?
If you ask Mayor Knox White, the latter seems to be the answer.
“As the city becomes more desirable — great downtown and neighborhoods — we are getting a greater share of that growth. Hence our city population is jumping after decades of decline,” White says. “More than ever we have to plan smarter. “
The mayor adds, “We can’t just put our head in the sand. That’s why we are moving to capture more green space and build a new park on the west side. And why we are looking for smart traffic diverters such as a new connector to Woodruff Road.”
White, of course, is speaking about the in-development City Park on Greenville’s west side and the parallel road that will be built, in part, to divert traffic off of the horribly congested Woodruff Road, which transformed from a large swath of undeveloped land into one of the city’s busiest retail strips in 15 years.
Still, the mayor is quick to point out that not all growth is good growth. Case in point, the proposed 55 Camperdown project on the Reedy River and a controversial — and abandoned — Chick-fil-A on Augusta Street.
“I think keeping the conversation focused on balanced growth is the best way for Greenville to chart a different path from other fast growing cities,” White says.
Two other projects in the downtown area are also set to be redeveloped. The county offices at County Square are going to be bulldozed and replaced with a mixed use development, complete with a new county HQ. And the so-called East Gateway District, the home of the proposed Grand Bohemian hotel, is set to re-conceptualize the northern side of the Reedy River, bringing with it new retail, office, and greenspace.
While downtown is the hub of most new development, other areas are experiencing a boom, from the outer edges of the West End to the Village of West Greenville. However, the mayor and others believe the next big wave of development will crest along Laurens Road.
As previously reported in the Greenville Journal, a host of new projects are on the table, from the extension of the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail to at least two mixed-used developments, a theatre, and a grocery store. Spinx Plaza at the intersection of Laurens and Washington Street may also get a makeover.
And the big changes don’t stop there. There have even been chatter about the possibility of tearing down the Church Street Bridge.