Greenville County expects to issue a request for proposals to develop County Square by the end of the year.
The redevelopment of County Square is expected to be the largest development in the history of downtown. County Square is the county’s government headquarters in an old mall on University Ridge that’s adjacent to the West End and less than two miles from the heart of downtown.
The property has drawn interest from national and local developers, said Greenville County Councilman Jim Burns, who chairs the Council’s County Square ad hoc committee on development of the property. “There’s a huge amount of interest in this from all over the place,” he said.
The county is now studying space needs for the next 20 years. The study should be complete by the end of September. In addition to providing space for county departments, it is also provides space for state agencies such as Family Court, the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Department of Social Services. Some of those agencies are located at County Square, while others are across University Ridge on property also owned by the county.
The county will keep its offices on the property in new space, likely a multistory building instead of the one-story sprawling facility it has now. “It will be hard to add on if we go up,” County Administrator Joe Kernell said. The county is looking at building space for 2,035 employees, a number he said includes at least 20 years worth of growth.
Kernell said the development would have to be “pretty high density” because of the cost of the land, which county officials said could fetch $1.5 million to $2 million per acre.
Parking is already an issue on the West End and Greenville city officials are concerned that elimination of the parking at County Square and its future development could put a strain on the system.
Kernell said the county would likely have to pay for a parking structure to meet some of that demand. Developers would also have to provide parking for their projects, he said. He said people doing business with the county would not have to pay for parking.
“There will be many parking decks on the site if it is developed like we think it will be developed,” he said.
Burns said the county will not “space plan” the development outside of the county space; instead, it will allow developers to come up with plans that are expected to include office, retail, restaurants and, perhaps, residential.
One thing that likely won’t go on the space is affordable housing.
“This land is probably not conducive to that,” Kernell said.