A Tale of Two Towers: Hundreds set to move into downtown Greenville area
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Over the course of the next two months, two massive housing projects are scheduled to come online, bringing upward of 800 new residents to the downtown area.
Gather Uptown and Dickinson Lofts/University Edge both are scheduled to open by August.
Gather Uptown, located at the corner of West Fifth and South Greene streets, just across from City Hall and the Greenville Police and Fire-Rescue headquarters will begin moving in residents by July 1.
The five-story, 140,000 square foot apartment complex will offer bed spaces for 404 students. The complex includes an attached parking deck and a climate-controlled bike facility.
BSB Design, a firm started by architect and Better Homes and Garden editor Jack Bloodgood, created the look of the Gather project. The art-deco style of the structure was inspired by the city’s original City Hall building and a long-vacant bus station that was among the structures cleared to make space for the complex, which occupies an entire city block.
Kasai Carter, leasing specialist for the property, said its overall goal is tied to the idea of its central location and emphasis on walkability and bicycling. She said true to its name, Gather Uptown is designed and planned to bring students together in a space in the heart of the city, and not only provide for residents needs but help grow the surrounding community.
“When you think of all the businesses down here — especially those that suffered from the last football season — they need people down here, people that live down here,” Carter said. “This is for our residents, but this is also for the city of Greenville.”
Just two blocks south of the complex, construction is wrapping up on another mixed-use development that includes additional housing.
The $32 million dollar project is located just off Dickinson Avenue, leading developers and city officials to hope the increase in population will spur more growth into the booming Dickinson Avenue corridor.
The project is split between two main apartment complexes, connected around an interior courtyard. University Edge is designed as student housing. Dickinson Lofts, the section of the project running parallel with Dickinson, will offer market-rate apartments which developers said they hope will meet the need of young professionals in the city.
Between the two, about 400 residents are expected to live in the complex, with provided parking in an attached parking deck and adjacent lot. In addition to housing, the mixed-use development also will feature 20,000 square feet of retail, dining and office space that it is hoped will draw pedestrian traffic to the Dickinson Avenue corridor.
Developers say the mix between student housing, professional housing and commercial space is emblematic of exactly what the complex and the future of Greenville development requires: balanced growth that prioritizes all economic drivers of the city, not development that only addresses one need.
Jim Blount, a local partner for the project said he was excited about the idea because it brings new life into the area, which is showing sure signs of a great future.
“I think what differentiates us from other properties is the Dickinson Avenue corridor,” he said, looking out the window of a fifth floor apartment. “That right there, this whole Pitt Street area, it’s all coming to life. I know we’re early and the wave is still building, but I really do think it’s going great.”
According to data provided by Bianca Shoneman, president of the nonprofit Uptown Greenville organization, Blount’s vision of the complex is entirely within reason. She said the addition of the about 800 residents into the downtown population is certain to make a profound effect on the area.
Shoneman said such a drastic increase has only happened once, when the opening of The Boundary apartment complex nearly doubled the residential population from about 585 to 1,100.
Population in downtown Greenville had remained relatively dormant before The Boundary, remaining at around 585 since 2012, when Uptown Greenville keeping records.
Shoneman said in the year since The Boundary opened, she has heard from downtown businesses that traffic has sharply increased, with one business even reporting an about 30 percent uptick in sales.
In addition to the increased population, Shoneman said she is excited to see an increase in foot and bicycle traffic, which could prompt improvements in infrastructure and downtown culture.
“I certainty think we’re going to see more student traffic, more people walking the streets,” she said. “ I’m excited about the impact it will have on walkability.”
Contact Seth Gulledge at 329-9579 and Sgulledge@reflector.com
East Carolina University has a fistful of irons in the construction fire as the campus grows.