The West Village Lofts at Brandon Mill has traded hands for $42.2 million, and Greenville Center for Creative Arts (GCCA) has purchased one of three parcels of the development, the historic Brandon Mill Cloth Building at 101 Abney St., they’ve called home since 2015.
Subsequently, the new owners of the Brandon Mill development will be donating the third parcel, the 30,000-square-foot Cotton Warehouse that sits on the property, to GCCA in the first quarter of 2019, allowing the art school to expand its 3D classroom offerings.
Cherington Shucker, GCCA executive director, says the board and leadership anticipates doubling the number of students served annually, currently 950 per year, with the additional classroom and studio facilities.
Located in the Village of West Greenville, which is known as Greenville’s arts district, GCCA has operated as a non-profit, community-driven arts center since opening, attracting more than 30,000 visitors for classes, exhibitions, community events, and First Friday events.
The Cloth Building GCCA occupies is situated in the renovated West Village Lofts at Brandon Mill project envisioned and carried out by Pace Burt, who redeveloped the mill beginning in 2014 into a mixed-use development that includes 275 residents.
GCCA has served as an anchor of the growing visual art district in the Village of West Greenville and brought people to the development before the residential portion was completed.
“They created something so special and brought awareness to the area,” Burt says about GCCA.
GCCA’s First Friday events draw hundreds of people each month to a part of town many had never visited, says Tracy Hardaway, GCCA’s chair of fundraising and co-founder.
“It’s been so much fun to be able to help open people’s eyes to what could be down here,” Shucker says.
Burt, who also owns The Lofts of Greenville development at 201 Smythe St., recently sold two parcels of the Brandon Mill property to California-based Brookline Investment Group, which owns the 400 Rhett apartment complex in the West End in addition to other investment properties around the country. GCCA purchased the Cloth Building parcel from Burt.
Brookline’s interest in the property was heightened by the unique partnership between Burt and GCCA, and Burt was committed to preserving the relationship between the new owner and GCCA.
Brookline’s donation of the Cotton Warehouse building further signifies their partnership with the arts center and was made possible through Greenville County’s granting of a 20-year property tax freeze contingent on the donation.
GCCA has launched a community capital campaign to raise the funds required to renovate and equip the Cotton Warehouse.
The renovation will create classrooms and studios for ceramics, jewelry and metals, and woodworking – none of which can be executed in the current GCCA location because of fire safety regulations due to its connection to a residential building.
Woodworker and architect Chris Stone of StoneCraft Studio3, in cooperation with LS3P, has designed the renovation of the Cotton Warehouse building.
“This building is like doing furniture or making pottery,” he says. “You have to physically get involved. I would say it’s like taking an old building or like an old piece of furniture and bringing it back to life.”
Stone says the bones of the building are already intact and is approaching the design like he approaches a piece of wood: Like an artist turning the hunk of wood into what it wants to be, asking ‘What do you want to be?’
“It’s really about keeping and enhancing what’s already there,” he says.