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Greenville's West End Community Center site pitched for mixed-use development

GREENVILLE — A Charlotte developer has proposed a mixed-use development with hundreds of apartments and a 560-car parking deck on the site of the West End Community Center in downtown Greenville.

Directly across Markley Street from Fluor Field, the 3.1-acre site is among the most high-profile and underdeveloped blocks remaining in the city of Greenville. More than half the acreage consists of parking lots.

Roughly 2.7 acres of the development site — including the West End Community Center — belongs to Allen Temple AME Church, a historically Black congregation that has been at the center of the community's cultural and political life for decades. In May 2020, then presidential candidate Kamala Harris needed a place to host a Town Hall meeting and chose the West End Community Center. The center also hosts community programs, church fellowship meetings and recreational activities, and occasionally serves as a voting precinct.

West End mixed-use redevelopment proposal site rendering

This rendering, provided to the public March 30, 2021, at a Greenville Design Review Board informal review, shows a proposed mixed-use project on the site of Allen Temple AME Church's West End Community Center between Main and Vardry streets in downtown Greenville. The Greenville Drive baseball stadium and Allen Temple AME Church are immediately east of the project site. City of Greenville/Provided

Austin Rutherford, a planner with the city of Greenville, presented a series of renderings to members of the city's Design Review Board during an informal presentation March 30 that was open to the public. He did not elaborate, but Rutherford said planning staff had several issues with the mixed-use project. The project's applicant, SunCap Property Group out of Charlotte, did not have anyone speak at the meeting, which took place via videoconference.

Calls to SunCap Property Group and Allen Temple AME Church were not immediately returned. Centennial American also owns roughly half an acre on the site and currently uses it as event parking.

The city's Design Review Board's urban design panel will take up the matter again at their April 1 meeting.

"I would note that staff does have reservations upon their plan, and we can ... go into those comments and suggestions from staff at the Thursday meeting," Rutherford said.

West End mixed-use redevelopment proposal site rendering

This rendering, provided to the public Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at a Greenville Design Review Board informal review, shows a proposed mixed-use project on the site of Allen Temple AME Church's West End Community Center between Main and Vardry streets in downtown Greenville. The Greenville Drive baseball stadium and Allen Temple AME Church are immediately east of the project site.

Still early in the planning stage, the proposed project features five- and six-story structures covering most of the site, with a parking deck at its center, commercial buildings along South Main and Markley streets, and residential buildings facing Vardry Street and Green Avenue. The acreage is located within the city's central business district with a "C-4" zoning designation that allows unlimited height.

One rendering suggests 250 apartments are planned ringing a central courtyard and pool, as well as 6,950 square feet of "amenities," 12,000 square feet of commercial space and 560 parking spaces.

The site plan also has a drive-through, but Rutherford said staff do not know what kind of business the developer has in mind for the site. Any drive-throughs in the city of Greenville require approval from the city's Board of Zoning Appeals, Rutherford said.

One attendee joked hopefully that a fast-food restaurant would locate there.

"We just know that it is a proposed drive through," Rutherford said. "They will be going through the board of zoning appeals concurrently or at least that is what they have informed staff."

According to property records, Allen Temple's main church property on Green Avenue dates back to 1940. The church cobbled together the 2.66 acres that developers have in mind for redevelopment across the street in a series of purchases over 40 years. The church paid a total of $202,500 for the property, records show.

It is now assessed at 11 times that value.

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Follow Anna B. Mitchell on Twitter at @AnnaBard2U.

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