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Unity Park, Project Unity Gateway plans leap forward

Molly Hulsey //June 24, 2020//

Unity Park, Project Unity Gateway plans leap forward

Molly Hulsey //June 24, 2020//

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Greenville City Council members expect the city’s investment in the 60-acre Unity Park and mixed-use development Project Unity Gateway to pay off as the local economy reclaims lost territory after the pandemic.

While $250,000 allocated for Unity Park was redirected to the Small Business Boost Fund at a City Council meeting Monday, plans for the first phase of park construction advanced as the council approved a $38,521,653 Guaranteed Maximum Price Contract with Harper General Contractors.

“It’s very historic,” Mayor Knox White said of the plan during the virtual meeting.

Renderings of Unity Park's Visitor Center by Mcmillan Pazdan Smith Architecture were included in Monday's city council presentation. (Image/ Mcmillan Pazdan Smith)With funds from private donors and local hospitality bonds, the city had approved a $40 million budget, but construction halted before it began thanks to COVID-19’s blow to the hospitality and tourism industry. However, Harper Construction agreed to hold the original price until July 7.

“The time has drawn nigh where we are at the end of that, so it’s basically ‘a do or die,’” Councilor Dorothy Dowe said during the meeting. “They have been very gracious to hold their pricing on that. We are at a point where we have to move forward to stay on track, and I do think it’s part of our economic recovery out of COVID as Mr. DeWorken pointed out in the work session.”

Phase I of construction — including earthen works, reconfiguration and restoration of the Reedy River and parking areas — is expected to launch July 13 and finish next March, according to White.

Progress on another city development, Project Gateway, was also debated during the meeting, leading to a council decision to include the project in a multicounty business park partnership with Anderson County. The partnership qualifies the project for a 20-year fee-in-lieu-of-tax agreement with developer Citisculpt, managed by Charles McAlpine, who is also expected to pay $100,000 per year to the Greenville Housing Fund under the agreement.

Unity Park's visitor center is set to include a patio and event space as portrayed in renderings by Mcmillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. (Image/Mcmillan Pazdan Smith“I do want to also join in to thank Citisculpt and Charles and his team for early on reaching out to us to say he wanted to see a project in downtown Greenville that included affordable housing in the heart of downtown Greenville,” White said. “That’s a tough thing to carry out. Many people didn’t think it was possible.”

The first approximately $75 million phase of the mixed residential and commercial community is set to include a 262-unit multifamily residential housing complex — featuring 52 units of affordable and workforce housing and upgrades to 60,000 square feet of an existing office building off W. McBee Avemue, S. Academy Street and W. Washington Street. About 10% of the units will be rented at 80% of the area median income; another 10% at 60% of the area median income.

An estimated $35 million hotel, retail and office complex will be built in the second stage of the project.

“It is so significant to have the affordable housing. Hopefully … it will be a model for other projects going forward,” White said.