Q: What’s happening on Poinsett Highway as you enter the city of Greenville?
What is it?
The Poinsett District Revitalization plan includes roadway improvements from Shaw Street to Cherrydale. Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven described this roadway as an “eyesore, especially between the intersection with Rutherford Road and SC 291.” In 2008, stakeholders met at the Duke Sandwich Company shop on Poinsett Highway to discuss improving the entrance to the City of Greenville. (I was on the initial committee.)
The goal was “to improve not only the corridor, but also the greater community throughout a circular area from the epicenter — the highway bridge over the railroad tracks,” Kirven further stated.
Who’s in charge?
This is a Greenville County–led project being managed by the County’s public works and planning team, including Paula Gucker, the Assistant County Administrator for Community Planning, Development and Public Works.
Phase 1 is costing $3.6million of (your!) tax money. This includes improvements such as landscaping, new traffic lights with mast arms, sidewalks on both sides of the four-lane roadway and “street furniture,” including benches.
Phase 1 will be finished in late spring 2020. “We are pleased to be at the finish line of this first phase,” said Gucker. We have had good response from property owners and are already seeing redevelopment along the roadway.”
Why invest public money?
Public roadway improvement is a catalyst for redevelopment, which is evident as now retailers are fixing up their shops and land is prepared for redevelopment including upcoming zoning hearings.
Also, increased traffic growth requires investing in roadways. In 2018, the average daily traffic on Poinsett Highway was 29,800 vehicles, according to the SCDOT. (Want to know traffic counts on your roadway? Visit www.scdot.org and search “traffic counts” to find an interactive map.)
What has been the initial business response?
The response has been mixed. Several retailers are concerned that construction has disrupted their business; one retailer said her total sales from 2019 to 2018 are down by 50%. The loss of parking has been a significant shift for their customers. And every business owner mentions a growing number of homeless people along the corridor using the new benches.
Others, however, see it as an improvement. Maetroy Murry, who , said the landscaping looks nice — “a good facelift for our road.” Steve Spinks, owner of the newest Spinx convenience store, on the corner of Poinsett Highway and Shaw Street, described the landscaped improvements as “helpful” to his business, adding that “the County has been great to work with.”
The Poinsett District Phase 2 plan will be presented to County Council upon the completion of this first phase. This important roadway connects downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest, winding between the Poe Mill and Brutontown neighborhoods. More change is coming for the Poinsett District.
Amy Ryberg Doyle most recently served on Greenville City Council for 12 years. She initially began her career in the internet space working for America Online and QVC. She is married and has four children and is an outdoor enthusiast. She likes to bike, swim and run, but not all in that order. She power–naps daily.