One of the early architects of the public-private partnerships that transformed Greenville died April 30 at the age of 94.
Without 20-year City Manager John Joseph Dullea and his partner Mayor Max Heller, Main Street may still have four lanes and few trees instead of a shaded streetscape with two lanes and wide sidewalks. The Hyatt hotel, sometimes called the first major step in the rebirth of downtown Greenville, may have been absent from the Emerald City’s skyline, along with the tourism impact of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, according to Dullea’s obituary.
After hearing about the about the then-innovative public-private partnership through the International City Managers Association at least four decades ago, Dullea introduced the concept to Heller and the city council and convinced them that it could play a critical role in transforming downtown, according to his obituary.
Under Dullea’s leadership in the mid 1970s, the city granted the Hyatt Corp. the opportunity to build a luxury hotel at the corner of Main and College streets in exchange for funding toward a streetscaping project that contracted Main Street’s lanes and made downtown more suitable for pedestrians. Nine years after the Hyatt opened, the Peace Center also established its home on Main Street through a similar public-private partnership.
During Dullea’s 40-year career serving six cities until 1991, he also served on the executive board of the International City Managers Association, as president of the S.C. City and County Managers Association (through which he was a Lifetime Achievement Award winner) and on various local, state and regional commissions, boards and municipalities, the obituary said.
“You are fair, you are truthful, you are dependable, you are loyal and you are honest (and not political),” Heller wrote in a letter read at Dullea’s retirement ceremony in 1991.
Born on Dec. 19, 1926, in Manchester, N.H., Dullea received a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University in New York and a master’s degree from Syracuse University.o