Long-standing plans to build a modern arts and conference center along the Reedy River in Greenville may finally bear fruits. The first public designs came out March 19, as prominent developers Phil Hughes and Bo Aughtry pleaded with the Greenville county council for financial support.
This proposed convention center would be erected on 6.7 acres – the last big piece of developable land on the Reedy River. If everything goes according to plan, this ‘one-of-a-kind’ events center will be a major draw for conferences, as well as help increase tourism and spur jobs growth.
Funding for a Greenville SC Convention Center on the Reedy
This new conference center in Greenville, SC comes along with a price tag of over $100 million – inclusive the value of the donated land. The City of Greenville and Greenville County are each expected to chip in $26 million in project funding, with significant participation from the private center.
Already, local lawmakers have made a request for $5 million in funding through special earmark legislation. These funding requests will still need to get approval from the state senate. According to the developers, the overall center could spur more than $300 in private investment. This would include an Embassy Suites hotel with a 250-room capacity and connected to the existing Embassy Suites across the street via a sky bridge, as well as a modern events center, residential units, office, and retail facilities.
New home for the Greenville County Museum of Art (GCMA)
Due to space constraints at its current location at Heritage Green, the Greenville County Museum of Art can only show about 5% of its prized collection. The upcoming downtown space would add 25,000 more square feet to GCMA’s exhibit space, nearly doubling it.
This would make it possible for the Museum – one of the best things to do for visitors in Greenville – to display works by top artists David Drake + Jasper John, Andrew Wyeth, and more. Up to now, these items have been in storage.
New center the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery
The Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery is certainly in need of a more accessible, central location. The museum carries one of the biggest collections of European Old Master paintings in the country, including renowned pieces from Rubens, Van Dyck, and Botticelli. However, the museum is seeking a new home to house its famous collection as its primary space at BJU campus has been closed for renovations throughout 2019. The proposed walkable location in downtown would provide 60,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space for this Greenville art hotspot.
Missing Piece – downtown conference center
For a long time, Greenville has been missing a conference center in the walkable downtown area. The new conference center will draw out-of-town people and organizations to Greenville. This proposed conference center would be a perfect spot for conferences that are too big for the Hyatt and that do not want to transport attendees from downtown hotels to the Greenville Convention Center (previously known as the TD Convention Center) or the Palmetto Expo Center.
The new conference center would occupy a whopping 68,000 square feet. It will incorporate a 25,000 square ft. ballroom, a “jewel box” building feature, as well as a public gathering on the exterior fronting the Reedy River. With the capacity to host about 620 events every year, this space would have a major positive influence on the city.
Together with the two outstanding museums and the surrounding mixed-use developments, the new meeting facility will attract tourists and businesses alike. It’ll be a catalyst for ongoing growth and developments in the area.