Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers unveiled conceptual plans for the development of downtown Greenwood on March 6.
Kent DeKoninck, superintendent of Greenwood Community Schools, approached Myers about partnering with the school to build a new middle school and have the city purchase the old one. That happened, and that land is now going to be redeveloped, along with the north city center parking lot, Old City Park, Market Plaza and other city-owned properties.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Greenwood to revisit our downtown area,” Mayor Myers said. “We’ve done the facade enhancement program, and we’ve built up our old downtown, which is a fixture of who we are and what we are. Now, we have an opportunity to build our new downtown.”
Guided by an interactive display that allowed Mayor Myers to show renderings of specific areas of downtown on a TV, he showed each area and renderings of the buildings. A two-story, below-ground parking facility is being considered near the city center and Market Plaza. Townhomes are another major change that Myers wants to bring to downtown Greenwood.
The downtown vision plan proposes more than 450 apartments and 130-plus townhomes.
“Since we have announced that the city was purchasing the middle school and we’re gonna develop that area, I can’t tell you the number of people who have emailed me or wrote me or stopped me on the street and said, ‘hey, when are you gonna have downtown living?’ I want to buy a condo in downtown Greenwood,’” Myers said. “It’s the place to be. We know that the Southside is seeing a resurgence, and we want to lead the charge for that resurgence.”
Old City Park is another point of focus. Machledt Drive, the street between Madison Avenue and Mrs. Curl, will be turned into a bike path and pedestrian walkway with room for a potential amphitheater in the future.
The initial estimate for all of the downtown projects total $30 million. The first, public open house for the proposed plans is Thursday at 6 p.m. at the City Center building, located at 300 S. Madison.
“I want you to remember one thing — this is all just a vision,” Myers said. “It’s something that can be changed. We want input from business owners, we want input from residents. All of this is concepts. Concepts can be changed, they can be adjusted, they can be molded and made to make Greenwood an even better place to live, work and play every day.”
Adam Peaper, project planner for Rundell Ernstberger Associates, has been working with the city for about 16 months. He was the lead planner for the downtown development plan that started to establish the framework and recommendations for public space, trail and development projects.
“We focus more so on the park, the streetscapes, the trails and the connections between and amongst those, but we’ve also made recommendations for some of the built works to continue that historic fabric of the downtown,” Peaper said. “We’ve got really positive feedback on everything we’ve done. We want to see this vision come to fruition. We’re happy and looking forward to help in any we can in moving these projects forward.”
John Martin, publisher of the Town Planner calendar, has been in the Greenwood community for 20 years and is excited to see residential and commercial development coming together to the area.
“I think it’s necessary to have both to really make it work, so I think that’s great,” Martin said. “I think it improves the business development in the city of Greenwood and the shopping and the restaurant culture.”