SPECIAL REPORT: A LOOK AT DOWNTOWN GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

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Winter, spring, summer, fall: Greenville’s downtown in South Carolina has proven worth checking out all year.

The city is bursting at the seams with businesses, restaurants and plenty of foot traffic.

Greenville City officials say they believe their success at keeping people downtown is simple: it’s the trees. The wide, tree-lined sidewalks offer an inviting, walkable area with plenty of shade for locals and visitors alike.

There are few traffic lights on the narrow two-lane Main Street, and traffic moves slow.

“We got parking and traffic problems that go along with that, but more people generally is a good problem, you just have to figure out how to solve it” said Carolina Ale House owner Chris Sullivan.

With a beautiful landscape comes plenty of visitors, said Greenville Mayor Knox White.

“Creating a walkable downtown has brought us a number of tourists,” White said. “We never expected anything like that. It’s all new for us.”

Sullivan said he bought the building now housing Carolina Ale House after it spent years sitting vacant.

But over the past 20 years, downtown Greenville transformed, turning boarded-up buildings into a major thoroughfare.

“All of a sudden more attractive options and things to do started arriving downtown, through business developments, real estate development,” Sullivan said. “City leadership brought in things downtown that kind of transformed from one end of Main Street all the way down to the West End.”

Table 301 Restaurant owner Carl Sobocinski said locals and businesses were looking for buildings featuring retail on the bottom and residential above.

“Restaurants were one of the first businesses to go in and start to revitalize downtown,” Sobocinski said.

Greenville features plenty to do, including walking trails; the Peace Center, a 2100-seat concert hall with an amphitheater; and Fluor Field, home of the Greenville Drive baseball team.

“Our challenge is to keep it walkable, to keep it people focused even as the city grows,” White said. “That’s going to mean an enhanced focused on the river, the green space we created along the river and keeping the livability we want to have in the downtown area.”

White said there’s plenty a city like Tuscaloosa can learn from Greenville.

“Every community is different,” he said. “You really play to your strengths. Understand what you have that makes you unique and different. I think every community needs to ask that question and not try to invent themselves based on some other city.”

Join WVUA 23 News at 10 on Wednesday for Part 3 of “Game Changing, The Economic Impact”

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