Councilmembers propose changes to County Square redevelopment project

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Some Greenville County Councilmembers proposed changes to the billion dollar County Square redevelopment project Friday. They say their plan would cost less. 

Those councilmembers also detailed a list of ten reasons why they want to make the change in the project, including lack of transparency, loss of trust in leadership and cost.

At a press conference Friday morning, Greenville County Councilmembers Lynn Ballard, Ennis Fant, Willis Meadows and Rick Roberts presented their idea to scrap the plan for a new county building as part of a public-private development on the current site of County Square. 

“If somebody asked us today, what would this building cost as proposed? We don’t know,” Meadows said. 

They propose selling all the land on County Square and outsourcing the county office buidlings elsewhere, which they said would cost nearly $65 million. They said that is $95 million less than the original plan. 

“Start spending that much taxpayer money…I think we’d rather see that money go to public safety, transit problems, roads…than being spent on a glass palace,” Roberts said.

Councilmembers suggested buying a pair of buildings on Halton Road near Haywood Mall for the new county office building and purchasing another site for SCDOT, the health department, and family court.

The county originally proposed buying the pair of buildings for about $33 million, but the proposal was rejected after some councilmembers said they thought the building wans’t worth the price. 

An appraisal commissioned by the county found the buildings on Halton Road to be worth about $33 million, but Meadows said he is skeptical of the estimate because it compares Greenville to other cities in the Southeast, such as Birmingham, Ala., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla, Charlotte, N.C. and Charleston, S.C. Meadows estimates the county could go back and buy the property for about $22 million. 

“The handling of the Halton Road property is really probably the focal point that showed us the place we were going and how much we were going to spend if we followed this,” Meadows said. 

Critics of the alternative plan said stopping work on the building would send millions of dollars down the drain for the work already done and would hurt the county’s reputation as a place to do business. 

“When companies are wanting to come to Greenville, they’re not going to want to bring mulimillion dollar operations here when the county council can’t agree on simple things,” said Councilman Joe Dill.

County Councilman Chairman Butch Kirven told 7News that having county employees on site as part of the new development is part of the draw for other developments on site.

Councilmembers are hoping to add the proposal as an amendment to a request to halt the project that is going before Council next week. 

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