The City of Greenville is one step closer to breaking ground on the first phase of what is tentatively being called City Park, the signature park planned for the western side of downtown.
On Monday, Greenville City Council received updates about the park’s progress during a work session, including a recommended timeline for phase one. The timeline recommends the city approve the park’s master plan by July 17.
According to Greenville Mayor Knox White, phase one of the park could be completed by 2020. It is expected to transform Greenville’s western flank much like Falls Park and subsequent projects transformed the West End.
Last year, the city hired Ohio-based urban design and landscape architecture firm MKSK to create a masterplan for the park and surrounding area.The firm has since been mapping flood ways, formulating a community character plan to guide the development of the park and surrounding area, working on stream and wetland restoration plans, and more.
The proposed park has already spurred commercial and residential development even though the groundbreaking likely won’t happen until spring 2018.
Preliminary plans for the park include a large greenspace, “sprayground,” picnic area, basketball courts, and the transformation of Welborn Street into a promenade. The park could also have an observation tower.
The timeline recommends that the city hire a consultant next month to develop partnerships with the private sector and spearhead a fundraising effort.
“We’ve been saying this would be a public-private partnership since the beginning. It’s becoming the new normal for park development,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White. “We just have to get serious about it.”
City Council has earmarked up to $2 million a year for 10 years out of hospitality tax revenue for the public improvements associated with the park.
Darren Meyer, principal of MKSK, told City Council last year that the first phase of the park could cost around $10.9 million. An additional $7.9 million would be needed for roadwork and bridges to make the park area more accessible to neighborhood residents and downtown visitors.
White said much of the $20 million in hospitality tax revenue would be used to create green spaces throughout the park.
The city also plans to use public funds to widen the banks of the Reedy River, which runs alongside the 22 acres of planned park space. The city, however, plans to use private funds for the park’s amenities, said White.
For instance, Community Foundation of Greenville, the umbrella group for many of the area’s philanthropic organizations, plans to help the city raise funds. The group has already committed $150,000 to the park, according to White.
The city also hopes to hire a “real-estate professional” in the coming months to assist in property acquisitions on and near the park site, which is necessary for construction of the needed roadways and bridges.
White said the agent could also help the city capitalize off the park. According to White, the city is thinking about selling a warehouse on Welborn Street, which it purchased several years ago.
“We’re either going to sell it or demolish it,” said White. “We’re really hoping a developer comes through and wants to building something that compliments surrounding developments like the Feed & Seed marketplace.”
But the city’s public works facility is currently housed on the park’s site, which is confined between Mayberry, Welborn, and Hudson streets. The city is constructing a new facility on Fairforest Way that should be complete sometime in the fall.
Once the $25 million relocation is complete, the current site could be prepped so the space is usable and redeveloped within the park as money becomes available. The city plans to demolish the current public works facility by December.
White said the city also expects to complete streetscape designs for Hudson Street, which would “act as a grand entrance to the park,” before next year. The city also plans to complete the design of the perimeter road that’s proposed around the planned park space.
“This park has taken longer than we expected, but we’re now trying to move as fast as we can to facilitate construction,” said White.