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Charleston Business

Bob Hughes Honored for Work on Greenville, Columbia Revitalizations

Nov 08, 2023 01:22PM ● By David Dykes

Bob Hughes always wanted to be a doctor.

But the Rev. Robert G. Riegel, rector at St. James Episcopal Church in Greenville, convinced him he owed it to his dad and his family to carry on its work.

Red Hughes had started his own company before graduating from Furman University and went on to create Greenville’s first industrial park: North Hills Industrial Park. He also developed apartments and small commercial buildings.

Through his connections, Red also developed the first Kmart shopping center outside of its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, and continued to build centers across the Southeast, always with an eye for serving others with value. His common-sense approach and tireless hard work led to a handsome accumulation of a variety of products with valuable experience in every aspect of real estate development.

Now, Bob Hughes is chairman of Hughes Development Corporation, a third-generation, family-owned real estate development firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. It has developed projects across the Southeast, from Alabama to Virginia, in virtually all types of real estate. 

For his work, Bob Hughes was honored with the inaugural C. Dan Adams Lifetime Achievement Award at The Capital Corporation’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies in South Carolina luncheon Oct. 9 in Columbia in partnership with Integrated Media Publishing.

Integrated Media Publishing, publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business Magazine, partners with The Capital Corporation to honor the state’s fastest-growing companies. The program is in its 22nd year.

C. Dan Adams co-founded the Capital Corporation in 1991 as an investment banking firm focusing on mergers and acquisitions to the middle market. Since its founding, The Capital Corporation has become one of the largest merger and acquisition boutiques in the Southeast.

Hughes was honored for his contributions to business and philanthropy. 

“I can think of no more deserving recipient of the S.C. Business Awards’ first-ever individual lifetime achievement honor than Bob Hughes,” Adams said. “Bob’s impact on the Palmetto State’s economy and our flagship communities, from both a business and philanthropic standpoint, is truly indelible.”

Hughes Development Corporation has been heavily involved in Greenville’s burgeoning rebirth over the past several years, through projects such as RiverPlace, ONE, and the Governor’s School. The Upstate Business Journal reported Hughes also was one of the principals of Institutional Resources, the company that came up with an alternative financing plan that allowed Greenville County Schools to complete a $1.049 billion capital improvement plan that renovated, built, or added to dozens of schools. It was done without a tax millage increase, Hughes told Greenville Business Magazine.

With his son, Robert, Hughes has worked on the development of the BullStreet District, which is transforming the state capital city of Columbia into the hub of the new urban South. Known as the largest city-center development east of the Mississippi, the 181-acre development blends life, work, leisure, and community into a seamless transformation of Columbia’s historic landscape. 

Bob Hughes also has received the Order of the Palmetto, the state of South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, presented in recognition of a lifetime of extraordinary achievement, service, and contributions on a national or statewide scale. 

Over the last 15 years, Hughes Development has refined its focus to mixed-use urban developments, where its expertise and experience can be used to transform districts and make a lasting impact within the region. Hughes Development continues its tradition of broad development expertise, long-term ownership of its projects, and a commitment to adding value to local communities.

Early on, Bob Hughes had built dune buggies, worked in restaurants, been a cook in college, and an appraiser’s assistant. 

On Saturdays, he would sit in his dad’s office and collect rents for $1 a day. 

His higher education path took him to Duke University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and then on to the University of South Carolina, where he earned his law degree in 2½ years.

But he never practiced. He married his wife, Bunny, and went to work again for his dad.

His greatest achievement, Bob Hughes says, is his wife and his three children. He also has eight grandchildren.

He once told The Greenville News that his favorite trait in others is honesty and his least favorite is false piety.

Now 71, Bob Hughes says before he takes on a big project these days, “it needs to be transformational for the community, it needs to be something that somebody else can’t or isn’t going to do, and it needs to make a profit.”

He adds, “We want to make a difference. That’s the first thing we want to measure when we do something.”

His dad would be proud.