Atlanta-based developer Roca Point Partners has received unanimous approval from the Greenville (South Carolina) County Council to redevelop the site of county government offices into a $1 billion, 37-acre, downtown mixed-use project, according to the Greenville Journal.
Roca Point, an affiliate of New York City-based The Georgetown Co., will replace the existing County Square with a 4-acre complex that will include a 250,000-square-foot county office building, along with public and open spaces and more than 10 acres of new roads. On the remaining acreage, Roca Point will build 1,125 multifamily residences, 450,000 square feet of retail, 650,000 square feet of office space and 350 hotel rooms. None of the buildings will exceed 10 stories. The county has proposed rezoning that would allow a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 3.5.
The project, which is expected to provide an additional $22.5 million in county property taxes, will take approximately up to 10 years to complete. The county said it will use the new revenue stream to pay for the development’s new infrastructure. Roca Point will invest $200 million into the project and will share an expected $95 million to $105 million in land development and sales revenue with the county.
While the Greenville County Square redevelopment will create jobs and revenue streams for the city and county, some locals have raised concerns about the gentrification that might result. As Greenville becomes more upscale, housing prices are on the rise, and some long-term residents can no longer afford to live there. As it stands now, according to the Greenville Journal, almost a quarter of Greenville County residents earn less than $25,000 a year, and there is a 9,500-unit shortage of affordable housing.
This is a story that is playing out across the U.S. As developers replace aging buildings with shiny high-rise complexes, complete with high-end retail, offices, parks, apartments and condominiums, lower- and middle-income families are being pushed out to less-expensive suburbs, and some are even made homeless.
There is no single or simple solution. In Seattle, local activists contend that massive redevelopment to accommodate the influx of high-tech companies there has added to the city’s homeless population. In an attempt to ease the crisis, local officials recently passed a head tax, which requires companies with revenue of $20 million or more to pay the city approximately $275 annually for every full-time employee.
Some Seattle construction workers have said that the head tax creates a catch-22 if the companies responsible for the creation of so many jobs pull back their construction programs or even leave the city.