What happens when a city tears down an overpass and focuses on a park?
The city has a beautiful, natural waterfall smack in the middle of its downtown that was hidden for decades by a concrete overpass, warehouses and boarded-up buildings. White took some political heat, but convinced the city to fund a 20-acre public garden around the waterfall and a suspension foot bridge above.
“The park cost $13 million,” White says. “Within two years, over $100 million in private investment was created around the park — hotels, restaurants, condominiums, apartments. The entire, what we call the West End of our downtown, just blossomed.”
That was 2004, and crowds have been steady since. The timing was perfect: Development money was easy to come by, and projects were well under way when the recession hit. Greenville was one of the rare downtowns where cranes and construction crews worked right through the economy’s darkest days.
To attract developers, the city pays for green space and parking garages connected to projects. White has even been known to line up land and funding for companies. He’s Greenville’s chief cheerleader, but only 1 of 7 votes on the City Council, split 4 to 3, Republican to Democrat. Those lines don’t mean much, though, says Democratic Councilwoman Gaye Sprague.
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And then hang your head in shame over what your elected “leaders” are doing to Waterfront Park.