Did you know that Greenville’s downtown area had once become a ghost town? Back in the mid 20th century, retailers and residents shifted to the suburbs leaving building after building empty along Main Street.
Thanks to the efforts of the city leaders at that time, they created a masterplan to revitalize downtown area. Since 1970s, several efforts helped jumpstart this revival, including building the Hyatt Regency hotel and the convention center next to it, the construction of the performing arts center we now called “The Peace Center”, the revival of the Pointsett Hotel, the demolition of the bridge that paved the way for the development of Falls Park, and the expansion of housing options downtown. Finally, it appears the city’s efforts have caught on. Greenville was named one of the Urban Land Institute’s “boutique markets” in its annual “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report.
Other cities that earned the title “Boutique markets” include Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee; Richmond, Virginia; Boise, Idaho; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Maine; and Des Moines, Iowa.
What exactly is a boutique market? Well, according to the Urban Land Institute, boutique markets are smaller cities that have lower costs of living and local economies that have withstood the COVID-19 downturn better than others. These small cities are anchored by lively downtowns that charm visitors, and developments that enhance their economic base.
Greenville earned the title “Boutique market” in part because of the city’s ability to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a low cost of living (92.2 index below the national average) and cost of business (91.1 index below the national average). Other lifestyle factors include natural amenities and diversity in leisure and cultural activities.
Several downtown projects also aided Greenville in the achievement of this title, including the construction of the Fluor Field at West End, a ballpark built in 2006, building of apartments and hotels as well as mixed-use developments. Other projects still in the works for the city include the development of the Unity Park which is expected to serve as an anchor for surrounding development, including affordable, workforce and senior housing mixed with market-rate housing.
Established businesses that helps drive the local economy include Michelin, BMW, TD Bank, Prisma Health, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, Duke Energy Corp., G.E. Power, and Fluor Corp.