GREENVILLE, S.C. – Verdae Development Inc. and Hollingsworth Funds unveiled a bold new outlook today for approximately 90 acres of Laurens Road property as Greenville’s next generation destination.
The refreshed vision aims to create a vibrant and inclusive mixed-use district that reflects Greenville’s cultural and social diversity while acting as a platform for economic innovation with commercial office, residential, recreation, and retail in a new urban setting.
While many details of the exact plan will be available as further envisioned and announced by development partners, some of the vision’s core elements promote accessibility, sustainability, connectivity, and affordability, including:
A new central street running parallel between the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail and Laurens Road.
A new green ribbon of parks and open space.
Improved connectivity for public transit as well as pedestrian and bike friendly trails and pathways.
The conversion from a one-use retail corridor to a mixed-use district that incorporates economic development through office, small business, and entrepreneurship; provides opportunities for a retail landscape to meet current trends; introduces new areas for public recreation; and, integrates a variety of housing options to maintain affordability.
“What we’ve presented is a long-term vision for an area of focus within Verdae that intentionally provides flexibility to adjust to Greenville’s growth, the market, and most importantly, to great ideas from community partners to help bring it to life,” said Gage Weekes, president and CEO of Hollingsworth Funds.
Verdae is the 1,100-acre master planned community that started in 2005 on one of the largest tracts of land in the Greenville area that was owned by legendary textile machinery magnate John D. Hollingsworth Jr. He left the bulk of his estate to Hollingsworth Funds, a charitable foundation established to use his vast holdings to support Furman University, the YMCA, and nonprofits benefitting the greater Greenville community. The creation of Verdae and its continued development helps fund a wide range of community initiatives annually supported by Hollingsworth Funds.
Given Greenville’s tremendous growth and changes to the market over the past 15 years and with almost half of Verdae remaining to be developed, the timing was right to revisit the original Master Plan to ensure that Verdae is positioned to deliver value to the Greenville community for the next 10 to 15 years. Hollingsworth Funds and Verdae Development initiated an Urban Land Institute Advisory Panel in late 2019 which helped lead to the decision to engage a world-class team of planning professionals to refresh the Master Plan.
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, HR&A Advisors, and other professionals have been working with Verdae Development and Hollingsworth Funds in a collaborative planning process that is grounded in real estate analysis and market data. This strategic review began with an in-depth study of the entire 1,100-acre master plan property, but led to a concentration on a portion of the footprint that has been performing as big box retail centers since the 1980s.
“We’ve learned a great deal,” said Debbie Wallace, president and COO of Verdae Development. “First and foremost, we have more land than can be absorbed by the market within a 10 to 15-year planning horizon. We can be more successful by reducing the development target area and cultivating greater community impact.”
Market realities that surfaced and influenced the creation of the new vision included:
Verdae is physically and economically between the downtown core and suburban market for products like office, residential, and retail/amenities.
Greenville's growing customer base has genuine purchasing power and seeks alternatives to typical suburban office and residential products.
Demand for residential (at a mix of price points), office (delivering a highly-amenitized experience), retail (sized and located strategically), and open space (adding character and sense of place)—will drive value.
Public-private partnerships are a key ingredient to funding required infrastructure and amenities.
“Greenville has a rich history of public-private partnerships, and Hollingsworth has certainly been a valued private partner with the City,” said Knox White, Greenville’s mayor. “The preliminary vision for Verdae is something we have wanted to see for some time along the main corridors in Greenville. This helps create new nodes of excitement and activity.”
Weekes said the next several months will be important as Hollingsworth and Verdae continue to gather input from community stakeholders, work with the City on its current development code process, establish a plan of finance for public infrastructure, and find the best development partners to execute the vision.
“This is a vision for a livable community for the future that builds on a legacy of exceptional planning and re-imagines a place where accessibility, sustainability, connectivity, affordability, and innovation intersect,” Weekes said. “We are excited about the opportunity to create a vibrant and inclusive mixed-use district that delivers value for the Greenville community and helps support Hollingsworth Funds’ philanthropic initiatives.”
About Hollingsworth Funds:
Hollingsworth Funds is a charitable support organization focused exclusively on Greenville, South Carolina. Endowed by the estate of textile machinery magnate John D. Hollingsworth Jr., Hollingsworth Funds’ vision is a vibrant, just, and inclusive Greenville where equitable opportunities exist for all to advance and thrive. Its mission is to collectively remove the systemic barriers that hold people back based on race, place, and socioeconomic status, and to strengthen the pathways that propel all people forward. Visit www.hollingsworthfunds.org for more.
About Verdae Development:
Verdae Development Inc. serves as the master developer for the 1,100-acre planned development. The real estate subsidiary has assembled a dedicated team of professionals committed to creating and maintaining a community whose reach will extend far beyond the Verdae boundary for many years to come. In addition to encouraging responsible residential and business growth, the broader mission is to build a community whose impact on Greenville County will be lasting and profound. Visit www.verdae.com for more.