Apartments, townhouses for the Greenville Scottish Rite Center site
In the neighborhoods around Cleveland Street, residents of Greenville are once again feeling the pressure of impending development.
Since the city and the State Department of Transportation adopted a road diet on nearby Augusta Road — converting the four-lane road to three lanes — drivers have started heading toward Cleveland Street to get to downtown quickly. town of Greenville, residents told The Greenville News.
Like Augusta Street, Cleveland Street is a state-owned road and serves as the main thoroughfare to downtown. The tree-lined street with cracked sidewalks is dotted with single-family homes, apartment complexes and condominiums, as well as a YMCA, three churches and the former Scottish Rites Center.
Now, with another proposed development for the site of the Scottish Rites and the redevelopment of County Square at 301 University Ridge due to open in 2023, residents of Alta Vista and Cleveland Forest fear Cleveland Street will become more dangerous for people living there.
“It’s going to put another level of misery on the road system, and it’s going to put everyone at risk,” said resident and former city council member Garry Coulter.
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More apartments and townhouses on offer for the Alta Vista neighborhood
Wil Brasington, who represents the area on city council, said he was “very aware” of residents’ concerns.
“And I’ve been pretty extensively engaged with people recently about this development project and then, over time, about safety and traffic issues on Cleveland Street,” Brasington said.
In addition to delineating the road, improvements could include a road regime with bike lanes, which the city is discussing with SCDOT, staff and officials said.
The annual average daily traffic count for Cleveland Street is 8,300 vehicles, according to SCDOT estimates.
Augusta’s road diet has only exacerbated traffic, residents said. Now, fast drivers who used Augusta Road to get downtown instead crossed the residential section of Cleveland Street. Coulter says he’s seen people driving 60 miles per hour on the road.
ACRE’s plans to redevelop the Scottish Rite site at 817 Cleveland St. The Atlanta-based private equity firm wants to build a 118-unit multi-family housing project comprising 35 townhouses, an apartment building and a lodge with a site access point.
“Density is an issue for a lot of people here,” said resident Paula Fulghum.
The same goes for road safety, she added. As the mother of a teenage driver and neighbor to several young families, she worries about the impact of nearby development on traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
At the other end of Cleveland Street is County Square, valued at $1 billion and one of the largest redevelopment projects in Greenville’s history. The project will transform 37½ acres of the county government headquarters into high-end residential, retail and office towers, one of which will be the new center of Greenville County government administration.
About 5,500 people could work on University Ridge by 2026 if redevelopment continues, according to the project application. There will also be 1,500 apartments housing around 2,800 people on site.
Fulghum fears the development will fuel more drivers up and down Cleveland Street in the coming years.
Greenville residents want to find traffic solutions
Brasington said he intends to find the same type of pedestrian and vehicular safety measures for Cleveland Street to maintain residential safety and quality of life.
Security concerns are of particular concern given churches and the Cleveland Street YMCA which offer childcare programs and community events, he said.
“I’m working to make sure the city takes the lead in what should be a similar collaborative effort to address traffic safety issues on Cleveland Street – also a state highway – as we did in the past year on Augusta,” he said.
Residents of the region are mobilizing to make their voices heard on security issues and development concerns. More than 200 people signed a petition urging the city to halt development on the Scottish Rite site and address safety issues on Cleveland Street, and 20 residents spoke out against the development at the planning commission meeting of the city on Thursday.
The planning commission postponed the project to the next meeting on September 15. The developer meets again with the neighborhood to discuss the concerns. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 30 at the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church at 741 Cleveland St.
ACRE representative Bret Hewett told commissioners the investors had made a “good effort” to reach out to surrounding residents and would work to address concerns about the project.
Whatever the outcome, the goal is to keep families safe, Fulghum said.
“Imagine waving at your teenager leaving the house, stopping on Cleveland Street on the first day of school, moments later to learn it was the last,” she wrote in an email to The news. “If you live, work or worship in this area, it affects you. And I hope you pay attention.”
Macon Atkinson is the city watch reporter for The Greenville News. She is fueled by long runs and strong coffee. Follow her on Twitter @maconatkinson.