Greenville County Council votes in support of downtown convention center, but with a catch

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- After voting to hold a resolution of support for a downtown Greenville convention center a few weeks ago, Greenville County Council voted to pass that resolution Tuesday night.

The resolution passed unanimously, except for the absence of Councilman Joe Dill, but with a catch: County Council can withdraw their support if Greenville City Council does not support a new plan for affordable housing at the county’s redevelopment project of 37 acres at University Ridge.

The city has jurisdiction over the county’s redevelopment project because it lies within the city limits. The city originally mandated that a percentage of part of the University Ridge project be reserved for affordable housing.

“When you add a quota for affordable housing directly on the site, it affects that bottom line and makes you have to go back and re-do the figures and possibly downsize,” said Greenville County Chairman Butch Kirven.

In response to that request, County Council voted to hold their support, and a pledge of intent to give up to $26 million dollars, for a convention center downtown that would be funded with city, county, private, and state funds.

Since then, Kirven and Greenville Mayor Knox White reached an agreement: the county would spend $2 million annually over the next five years for affordable housing in the area of University Ridge rather than dedicate a fixed percentage of the project going toward affordable housing.

“I think it was collaboration,” said Greenville County Councilman Ennis Fant. “I think it went beyond compromise. I think we came up with a solution that works for everybody.”

Mayor Knox White told 7News that money can leverage additional funding to create more than 100 units of lower cost housing in downtown Greenville.

But if City Council does not vote in support of the agreement on affordable housing, it has reserved the right to pull their support for the downtown convention center.

“If they flinch, then we’ll probably come back and withdraw our support,” Fant said.

According to Fant, the $10 million total for affordable housing would come from a $20 million settlement the county has with Prisma Health.

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