GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Parish House Community Development Corporation will start gathering public input for the transformative revitalization of the historic Newtown Community with a kickoff meeting on April 26 followed by three days of charrette planning.
A charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers.
The Parish House Community Development Corporation was created by Mountain View Baptist Church to help facilitate the planning for the rebirth of the Newtown Community, which is located on the western edges of the City of Greenville between the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Bramlett Road and the CSX rail lines and adjacent to the future Unity Park.
The kickoff will be held on Tuesday, April 26 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mountain View Baptist Church, 111 Cagle Street, Greenville. The three-day charrette will be held April 28 through April 30 at the church as well. Signing up to take part is encouraged and can be done at www.parishhousecdc.org.
“This is the start of something amazing for our community,” said The Rev. Stacey Mills, senior pastor at Mountain View. “We envision a vibrant and healthy community with improved quality of life realized through the work of Parish House addressing quality affordable housing; health and education disparities; lack of economic opportunities — all of which have historically impaired Newtown’s ability to thrive.”
Newtown is part of the greater Southernside Community, which draws its name for the railroad company whose lines and depot once dominated the landscape. Tall oaks populate the greenery. The Reedy River and Swamp Rabbit Trail run parallel to the neighborhood and help form its boundaries. The church is the tallest structure and easily the most recognizable in the community. Built and organized in the community in 1908, Mountain View moved to its current site in 1920. The current church building opened its doors in 1920.
“More than a century ago the community built the church and now the church wants to build the community,” Mills said. “Almost everywhere I go in Greenville, I find someone who is connected to the church.”
At its height in the 1950s, close to 500 families lived in Newtown, but that number has dwindled over the decades to less than 10. However, for the past 20 years, Mountain View has been purchasing vacant lots and now has almost 41 parcels of land of land ready for growth.
The Parish House CDC was created officially in 2022 to help foster and steer that growth. It was born out of the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic when the congregation began meeting outdoors. It has been working with stakeholders to develop a vision and mission. Now, is the time to start the public planning process to make that vision a reality.
“Parish House’s goal is to uplift Newtown, a historically disenfranchised Black community, by creating a thriving district that cultivates and appreciates the Black community,” said Bogue Wallin, president of Blue Wall Real Estate and a member of the Parish House CDC project team.
Parish House had created six core values to drive the project.
Health — Cultivate a safe and healthy environment
Education — Nurture learning for upward mobility
Equity — Create opportunities for access to a quality standard of living
Culture — Honor and preserve historical social institutions
Entrepreneurship — Encourage creativity, economic growth, and fiscal solvency
Integrity — Be honest and just in our words and actions
“Disinvestment in the Newtown neighborhood has led to growing racial, health, and economic disparities resulting in diminished quality of life,” said Melanie Brown, president of Restoration 52, a woman and minority owned real estate development firm rooted in health and a member of the project team. “The Parish House project aims to change that narrative, not just here but serve as a roadmap for other communities.