2018 was a headline-generating year in Greenville County with redevelopment plans for County Square announced, former Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis indicted, and clashes between developers and residents who worried infrastructure wasn’t in place to support projects.
Here are the Greenville Journal’s top 5 county stories.
County Square redevelopment announced
Atlanta-based developer RocaPoint Partners was chosen in April for the $1 billion redevelopment of County Square. Under the deal, RocaPoint will acquire or sell most of the nearly 38 acres of county-owned land on University Ridge in exchange for building a new $60 million glass-and-steel building that will house most county operations. The building is being designed by London-based Foster + Partners, the firm that designed Apple’s headquarters. The redeveloped County Square is expected to have 3 million square feet of new Class A office, retail, hotel, residential, and public space. It is expected to generate annual business revenues of more than $560 million once completed in seven to 10 years. Construction of the county building has not started, and it likely will be the summer of 2021 before the county is able to relocate its operations.
Sheriff indicted, expected to go to trial in March
Sheriff Will Lewis was suspended from office in April after he was indicted on charges of misconduct in office and obstruction of justice. Gov. Henry McMaster appointed retired sheriff and U.S. Marshal Johnny Mack Brown as interim sheriff. The indictments followed sexual assault and harassment allegations by Lewis’ former assistant, Savannah Nabors. She filed a lawsuit that alleged Lewis sexually assaulted her during a business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, in March 2017. That lawsuit has been settled. The terms were not disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement. Lewis is expected to go to trial on the criminal charges around March.
When the Economy Inn off Augusta Road in Greenville County was condemned in January, more than 100 people were left scrambling to find places to live. Some ended up sleeping on cots at a local church for as long as three weeks. The next time a motel is condemned, local government and nonprofit organizations have a plan to help residents find shelter. Homeless advocates say there are 12 motels in the Pleasantburg Drive, Mauldin Road, and Augusta Road areas that are being used as long-term housing by low-income individuals and families. The motel displacement response plan said the first goal is prevention of condemnation by local governments working with motel owners and property managers to make repairs.
Residential growth in the northern and southern ends of Greenville County caused conflict throughout the year. Greenville County changed its development rules for rural areas that are not zoned, allowing the county planning commission to consider compatibility with neighboring properties in its decision to approve or reject. Two lawsuits have been filed, one by a developer whose subdivision on Tigerville Road in northern Greenville County was rejected and the other by residents over a proposed subdivision off Fairview Road in the southern part of the county.
Orange traffic cones and barriers were a familiar sight in Greenville County, especially around Interstate 85, Interstate 385, and Woodruff Road. Construction on the Gateway Project is about halfway done and is scheduled to be finished in 2020. In addition, the state Department of Transportation is working on determining an alternate route to Woodruff Road. A study to determine the environmental impact of three routes is underway, and a public hearing is tentatively set for April 2019 to review the recommendations.