You’ve likely read about the hundreds of new workforce housing apartments planned for the former Poe Mill skate park. According to Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA) Executive Director John Castile, “the property is under contract, and the developer is doing his due diligence.” Castile says he is not aware of a completion date.
What else is new in Poe Mill? Chapel Greenville. Yes, it’s “Chapel,” as in a neighborhood sanctuary.
What is Chapel? It is a mixed-use, 43,000-square-foot project that is over 2.5 acres in the heart of the Poe Mill neighborhood. This is a new development under construction in the former Taylors Windows business at the corner of Shaw Street and Buncombe Road. The warehouse was originally a bakery for the Poe Mill workers and residents. It is scheduled to open in 2021. But there is a twist…
Who is behind this project? The two founders are Matt McPheely and Brooks Calavan. McPheely is a native Greenvillian recently returned after living in Austin, Texas. Calavan is an Austin-based tech entrepreneur and real estate developer. They have closed on the property and received a rezoning of FRD (Flexible Review District) by the county Planning Commission.
How is it different from other mixed-use projects? For one, McPheely is adamant about boosting neighborhood culture already there. McPheely wants to partner with the Soteria Community Development Foundation to build out the space. Both founders are attracted to making a difference in the underbanked population in transitioning neighborhoods. In order to fulfill this idea, they wanted to create a collaborative redevelopment in an Opportunity Zone.
In plain speak, what is an Opportunity Zone? It’s a federal tax incentive program that has been championed nationally by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. The goal is to attract investment capital in low-income zones to create jobs. Any capital gains can be reinvested, and taxes deferred. If you hold your investment for 10 years, then your appreciation is not taxed.
How will Chapel work? McPheely is committed to investing $1 million in small-business partners. Take a small businesswoman who started as a pop-up Mexican catering company and may not have the resources to grow. McPheely wants to give her access to capital, business design help and space to grow her craft. Dayna Lee is the owner of Comal 864 and a Chapel partner. “The area is underserved when it comes to affordable fresh food,” she says. “Being able to connect with people who don’t have instant access is important to me. I look forward to helping in a hands-on way, through our food and employment.”
There’s another other twist: Vicinity Capital has launched a investment fund. On Oct. 12, Vicinity Capital launched an opportunity for the public to invest in Class C shares to build Chapel Greenville. This is essentially a crowdfunding campaign to raise $250,000 of early capital. The minimum amount of investment is $500, and investing is open to the public. The website shows the business plan, how the money will be used (finished design, permitting and starting site work construction) and the opportunity for profit sharing. The annual return is 10% return annually and ownership of a piece of Chapel. McPheely also has a goal of creating an equity fund for the neighborhood to own a piece of the business.
McPheely is interested in this project for the long term, not a “fix and flip,” he says. Community redevelopment can come in lots of ways — a park, a school, a trail, new housing. This is neighborhood real estate investment as community redevelopment.
While Poe Mill workers probably stopped at the bakery daily 100 years ago, McPheely sees this project similarly. “I want it to be a meeting place where neighbors can connect,” he says. “There is event, office and dining space and we want the neighbors to help fill it with their own businesses.”
Amy Ryberg Doyle served for 12 years on Greenville City Council. She is married and has four children. An outdoors enthusiast, she likes to bike, swim and run, but not all in that order. She power-naps daily.