Cupola Building

Crews work on Eighth Street in front of the Cupola Building and the E.B. Ficklen Tobacco Co. building in 2020. Proposals before City Council would move the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences into the Cupola Building to allow for the construction of apartments and a hotel development at the Ficklen facility.

The Greenville City Council approved the first steps in an effort to bring $50 million in private investment in the Dickinson Avenue and Ficklen Street areas.

The council also voted to postpone until August action on proposed ordinance changes that will allow more bars to operate in downtown Greenville during its Monday meeting.

The council unanimously approved two letters of intent that outline the terms of two partnerships the city is striking with Taft Family Ventures and Stark Holdings to build a 150-unit apartment complex, a parking deck and hotel in downtown Greenville.

With the letters signed, the city and the two businesses will negotiate a formal development agreement with the goal of council approving it in June, said Deputy City Manager Michael Cowin.

In its agreement with Taft Family Ventures, the city the sell the company the land and building it owns at 729 Dickinson Ave. for $1.24 million. The parcel, currently home to the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, will be combined with others to build the apartment complex and parking deck. The city will lease 45 parking spaces.

Taft, in turn, agreed to move the museum to the nearby historic Cupola Building, which it will renovate with a $240,000 contribution from the city.

“The city manager and council have been incredibly helpful up to this point and we don’t expect it to change,” Taft said. “Now we will focus on the task at hand which is to get the development agreement in place by June so it will enable us to get our timeline started to meet the goals we stated up there,” Taft said.

Taft said an architect is working on the design for the Cupola Building with the goal of finalizing it within the next 90-120 days. Construction will begin immediately after. Taft said the construction mainly involves adding accessibility and making utility improvements.

“What the museum needs is just a modern space and that’s what we’re going to provide for them,” Taft said. The stained glass in the cupola structure will remain.

Once the museum is moved, construction will begin on the apartment complex. Taft said.

In the second letter, which is between the city, Taft and Stark Holdings, the city commits to making infrastructure improvements to Ficklen Street, between Dickinson and Ninth Street; Ninth Street, between Ficklen and Washington streets; Washington, between Ninth and Eighth; and Eighth, between Dickinson and Washington.

The work will include streetscape improvements replacing a stormwater pipe underneath Ficklen Street and rebuilding Ficklen Street. The city will spend up to $3.1 million on the improvements.

The estimated value of the apartment complex and parking deck is $30 million and the hotel project’s value is $20 million, Cowin said. It’s estimated the city will get $1.3 million in tax revenue over a 15-year period.


If the council approves the formal agreement in June, Stark will begin construction on the hotel.

Councilman Brian Meyerhoeffer asked Cowin to describe the apartment complex. The units will either be one or two bedrooms with high end finishes, Cowin said. It is not student housing, he said.

“They are meant for the professionals at Vidant, East Carolina (University) and at the industrial park,” Cowin said. “What is important to the city is we know we have a saturation of student housing,” Cowin said. “So it’s important we structure any type of future lease … with a resident cap that will minimize the chance of it becoming student housing.”

As Monday’s meeting drew to a conclusion, City Manager Ann E. Wall reviewed the items on council’s 6 p.m. Thursday agenda, including a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would end a decade-old rule that prevented new bars and nightclubs from operating within 500-foot of an existing bar or nightclub in downtown Greenville.

Councilman Rick Smiley noted that the city Planning and Zoning Commission approved the proposal but recommended the council hold additional input sessions to get more community input. During the planning board’s April 19 meeting, a property owner complained he wasn’t invited to earlier meetings that discussed the change. Members of Uptown Greenville, a group that promotes events and businesses in the downtown area, sent a letter saying more input was needed.

Smiley made a motion to postpone action on the item until August. The board unanimously approved the motion.

Other actions during Monday’s meeting included:

  • Awarding a $722,500 contract to Nature Trails to build the Chris Smith Mountain Bike Trails and the Bicycle Skills Park and Pump Track at Wildwood Park.

The city received $476,000 from Grady-White Boats and the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation to help with the construction costs.

The project will include six miles of single-track mountain bike trails along with the skills park and pump track that will be designed to be utilized as a National Interscholastic Cycling Association race course. Construction is expected to take approximately 12 months.

  • Approved the first reading on an ordinance that will repeal and replace the city animal protective services laws. A second reading and final vote are scheduled for Thursday.
  • Representatives from Pitt-Greenville Convention and Visitors Authority, Sheppard Memorial Library and Greenville Utilities Commission presented their proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budgets to the council.

People can comment on the three budgets, along with the city’s proposed fiscal year 2022-23 budget and a proposed stormwater management utility rate increase, during a public hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.