Mauldin taps Greenville’s Parker Group to revive City Center Concept
By Rick Spruill
Rendering provided by The Parker Group and Project Plus
Months after stepping back from a plan to create a place for residents to live, shop, dine and come together, Mauldin city leaders are mulling another way to meet that need for future generations.
City Council on Dec. 21 gave final approval to an ordinance approving a contract to sell about 7 acres of city-owned land in the vicinity of North Main and East Butler Road to the Parker Group, a Greenville-based real estate development and consulting firm, said Mayor Terry Merritt.
The contract would again kick-start Mauldin’s vision for a “City Center,” a multimillion-dollar development now almost a decade in the making near the geographic center of town.
Plans to advance the project stalled over the summer, when the city and a group of urban developers led by Contour Companies agreed to part ways.
Merritt said the initial vision was to develop about 24 acres in the heart of the city, half of which are privately owned.
A big vision. Maybe too big, said the Parker Group’s founder and Broker-in-Charge, Drew Parker.
“There was a dream sold and that dream was never really possible,” he said.
Starting with 7 acres, he said, brings an opportunity to get it right and build momentum for the future.
Not to mention, Merritt said the Parker Group offers what Michigan-based Contour could not: local connections and local successes, mostly notably The Commons, a 12,000-square foot open-concept, family-friendly dining experience on the banks of the Reedy River a few minutes from downtown Greenville.
“I’m excited. This is a local group that truly wants to be part of the community,” Merritt said.
Parker said Mauldin has been on the group’s radar for a while, situated as it is between Greenville and Simpsonville.
“It’s all about Mauldin’s location, which is phenomenal,” he said.
At the heart of the plan? A 20,000-square-foot warehouse.
Parker said the plan is to close on the 7-acre plot in the summer, hold a groundbreaking soon after and then get to work.
All with one thing in mind – kick-starting a transformational, mixed-use urban development intended to convert old places into new spaces, in the heart of the city.
“The big driver here is taking infill sites that are already on the grid and breathing new life into them,” Parker said.
Step one? Converting a city-owned, 20,000-square-foot warehouse located within the 7-acre parcel into a place to gather, eat, drink … and play pickleball.
Parker, a former Furman tennis player who went pro for a while, said pickleball - a combination of tennis, ping-pong and badminton – is better than it sounds.
“It’s one of the most fun sports I’ve ever played.”
So much so, he’s planning to put six pickleball courts inside the warehouse while outside, under a 5,000-square-foot covered pavilion, families can enjoy a slew of food and beverage options while listening to an acoustic set performed on a covered stage.
If pickleball isn’t your speed, Parker said a covered lawn will be home to cornhole or possibly bocce ball.
Parker’s warehouse concept is only the commercial component of a plan, though. There’s a residential component, too, involving the construction of townhomes that, Parker said, are for buying, not renting.
Merritt said the planned – and funded – Swamp Rabbit Trail extension through Mauldin that includes a footbridge over Interstate 385 would one day connect the City Center with the BridgeWay Station project, a 40-acre mixed-use development at the corner of I-385 and Bridges Road.
“It’s the future, as best as I understand it, for my grandchildren, and beyond,” he said.
Parker said the project won’t reshape the skyline - Mauldin will still be Mauldin, but with a new twist.
“It won’t look like downtown Atlanta,” he joked. “But, it’ll be perfect. It’ll be a great place to be.”