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Deal sealed on downtown housing complex

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Shannon Keith
The Daily Reflector

Friday, February 17, 2017

Plans for a $32 million housing, office and retail project in downtown Greenville entered its next stage Thursday after a Baltimore-based development group finalized a sales contract to purchase the City of Greenville’s parking lot on the corner of Dickinson Avenue and Reade Circle.

Sidewalk Development purchased the property from the city to build a development to be called University Edge/Dickinson Lofts, a mixed-use development in place of the parking lot.

“This project — a right-sized mixed-use-development project in the urban core — will demonstrate that Greenville can, should and will be a leader in urban redevelopment for this region,” Sidewalk Development partner Rick Banning said in a news release issued Thursday after the deal was finalized. 

Greenville realtor Jim Blount, a local partner in the development, said the project will contribute to downtown Greenville’s push to promote culture, retail and residential living in the district.

“I’m very excited for what this project will bring to Uptown Greenville,” Blount said. “When this is finished, it will be another feather in Uptown’s cap.”

Blount said the development will feature 20,000 square feet of retail, dining and office space that will draw pedestrian traffic to the developing Dickinson Avenue corridor.

Part of the Center City-West Greenville Revitalization Plan adopted in 2006 is the transformation of the Dickinson Avenue corridor, which runs through Greenville’s historic warehouse district. The city hired urban design consultants Ayers Saint Gross to develop the Dickinson Avenue Corridor Plan, which transforms the area into a mixed-use innovation district.

Innovation districts are a recent trend in urban planning that promotes mixed-use developments, which combine residential, office, commercial and recreational components. With sidewalk and lighting improvements, restaurants, shops, offices, some types of manufacturing, student and market-rate housing and even parks can be within walking distance for people living in an innovation district.

Blount said designs for the development were based on the Dickinson Avenue Corridor Plan.

“That was kind of the Bible we used to develop our plans,” Blount said. “The plans from Ayers Saint Gross were well done, and I think the city has done a fantastic job of getting that corridor ready.”

University Edge will consist of 86 premium student housing units that are within walking distance to East Carolina University. Dickinson Lofts, which will be Greenville’s first market-rate apartment community, will have 58 units catering to young professionals who want to be a part of downtown Greenville’s vitality and growth, Blount said.

Both University Edge and Dickinson Lofts residents will have access to a fitness center, pool, courtyard and social spaces in the development. Dickinson Lofts residents will have access to onsite parking and University Edge residents will park on a surface lot on Clark Street.

Columbus, Ohio-based Hallmark Campus Communities also are partners in the development project, Blount said. Hallmark is a private developer of off-campus student housing developments across the United States.

“They have done some major projects and they are a first-class outfit,” Blount said. “We couldn’t have hoped for a better partner in this project.”

The city will begin clearing the Dickinson Avenue and Reade Circle parking lot within the next 30 days and crews will begin scraping and preparing the lot during the first week of April, Blount said.

“Bids are out for the construction now and hopefully things will get moving in April,” Blount said. “We are excited to get this project underway.”

The project is one of three housing developments planned or under development in the district. The Campus-Edge student housing project will be at 10th and Charles streets and the Gather Uptown project will be at West Fifth and South Greene streets.

The $54 million Campus-Edge project will be a five-story housing development which will accommodate more than 600 residents and includes a multi-story parking deck and 20,000 square feet of retail space in addition to other amenities. 

The Taft-Ward development will be located about two blocks from another Taft-Ward property, The Boundary@West End, 630 Cotanche St.

The 4.05-acre property, bounded by East 10th Street to the north, Charles Street to the east and Charles Boulevard to the west, will include the housing units and a structured parking deck which will have about 570 spaces.

The $30 million Gather Uptown project will be a five-story development that will accommodate more than 400 residents and includes a multi-story parking deck and other amenities.

Construction of the Gather Uptown project began during the summer. The 2.2-acre property, bounded by West Fifth, South Pitt, South Greene and West Fourth streets, will include the housing units and a structured parking deck which will have about 370 spaces.

”The Sidewalk Development project will be the third prominent housing complex to be developed and located in the Uptown District,” City Manager Barbara Lipscomb said. “However, unlike the other two projects, which feature primarily student housing, this one will also feature market rate housing as well as significant retail space.

“I am pleased to see this substantial level of financial commitment to our Central City area, which provides added taxable value to our city,” Lipscomb said.

Contact Shannon Keith at skeith@reflector.com and 329-9579.