GREER, SC (WSPA) – One of South Carolina’s fastest growing cities is getting a major makeover.
The bids are in for downtown Greer’s Streetscape Project – a concept that stemmed from the need to replace the almost 90-year-old infrastructure.
“That was a major undertaking that was going to require us to dig up all of the streets in downtown anyway,” said Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers. “So as a result of that we evaluated whether it was the appropriate time for us to consider a new streetscape.”
He said when city leaders started planning for the streetscape in 2015, they estimated a $7 million price tag.
“Engaged our community in some public engagement processes to ask if they supported us doing that and what the designs may would look like,” said Driggers, adding more design elements were added along the way after hearing from the public. “What we’re getting ready to do came out of that process.”
He said during the first bidding process only one company made an offer to complete the project for $11.75 million, so they requested bids again and picked the lowest of two offers.
“This is a 10 plus million dollar project and we received two competitive bids and they were less than one percent different. That’s extremely unusual for a bid to be that close,” said Driggers. “So it did give us a great degree of comfort. It let us know that it’s a very competitive bid.”
Sossamon Construction’s winning bid was about $1 million below the original bid at $10.87 million.
“We’ve done a number of streetscapes throughout the Upstate – Daniel Morgan Square in Spartanburg, Fountain Inn, Abbeville, we’ve done a number of them,” said Matt Sossamon. “We understand the concern that the business owners have in the downtown and we’re going to do our best to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible.”
Driggers said city resources will be used to fund the project.
“Last year city council authorized us to issue a general obligation bond so we borrowed some money that was specifically for our downtown streetscape, for the construction of the garage, our assistance with the hotel project and for our performing arts center,” said Driggers. “We now will use some additional resources – what we call ‘fund balance’ but it’s our reserves. We’ve been very successful over the past 10 years in building our reserves for projects just like this and so that’s where those dollars will come from.”
It’s a downtown that Driggers said will not look traditional, with work on all roads in the central business district and transforming Trade Street to a shared street design.
“We’re taking a design that is very unique to South Carolina, very unique to the United States as a matter of fact,” said Driggers. “We had to go look at some other more urban cities for this type of design but it’s called a shared street design. It is a very non-traditional, no curb and gutter, it’s not an asphalt street, it’s a paver street. We’ll maintain two way traffic for vehicles. We will also maintain pedestrian access in that area as well as there will be parallel parking.”
He said the city hopes it will enhance people’s experience downtown.
“When we do festivals and special events in the downtown area it transforms into a plaza area that has none of those barriers that you would typically see on a street,” Driggers said. “It’s going to lend itself extremely well for the activity that we’re wanting to generate in the downtown. Our merchants are extremely excited about it.”
He said the city hopes to get a contract in place before the end of the year to begin work in January 2019. Construction is expected to last 18 months.