GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) — The City of Greenville is investing nearly $15 million in creating affordable housing in West Greenville and Southernside near Unity Park.
City leaders said the investment includes the donation of eight parcels of land with four affordable developments underway right now.
The city said the Greenville Housing Fund has a goal of providing affordable homes to 1,000 residents.
“We have plans for more, but what I shared with [City] Council today, in this update is particularly adjacent to Unity Park, the 451 homes, I think it was, that we have planned and are in various stages of design,” said Bryan Brown, President & CEO of the Greenville Housing Fund. “And that’s a big deal adjacent to Unity Park, and it’s going to provide diverse housing options for folks in Greenville.”
“Unity Park as a community asset is being supplemented by these diverse housing options that are so important to our community,” Brown said.
Whether walking, running, or playing–some believe Unity Park is a huge hit for the City of Greenville.
“When you have a great amenity like a huge park, the attraction of that, of course it’s going to draw more demand. When we have more demand, and when we have more demand, rising prices follow too,” said Dan Hamilton, Team Founder of Keller Williams Greenville Upstate.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increases across the board, but I think you’ll see even a little more–little more of a spike in the Unity Park area, just because for so long, that had been a more neglected part of town, and now with a great amenity like a park, that’s automatically going to drive more demand,” said Hamilton.
Many people who spoke with 7NEWS said there’s a need for affordable housing, not just in the areas around Unity Park, but all over.
“All of the booming housing. You got a lot of homelessness group is growing. You find a lot of people on the streets that you would never think would be out there,” said resident Grady Butler.
“Greenville County has a high number of people who, not just in extreme poverty, but they have the most difficulty getting out of poverty and being able to find affordable houses than probably any county in America,” said Lillian Brock-Flemming, Mayor Pro Tem of Greenville.
Flemming said, years back, the area surrounding where Unity Park is now used to be filled with homes.
“It had large number, and over a period of time, roads and gentrification moved them out of the way–starting in the late 60’s,” Flemming said.
“We have folks in homeless shelters in this town who get up everyday and go to a job. I mean, we have to address that, and these units will help get those folks out of shelter into safe and stable housing,” said Brown.
Now the City of Greenville, the Greenville Housing Fund, and other partners are working to change the narrative.
“Before we built Unity Park, the first thing we did was pledge 11 pieces of property that we would not allow us to build anything on it until we took care of those in need, and that takes a process,” Flemming said. “We thank the Greenville Housing Fund for going through the process, for going to investors, going to the banks, going to anyone that would help people in the community.”
Brown said the City of Greenville has made the $15 million investment for the Unity Park developments, which includes the land and funding.
The funding will go towards the eight sites around Unity Park.
Two of the those are Southernside Senior I – located at the intersection of Hudson and West Washington St., behind Lila Mae Brock Plaza – and Southernside Senior II.
Both sites combined will have nearly 150 apartments. The Area Median Income (AMI) for those are 50 to 60 percent.
“We are creating a new diverse community in Southernside, to honor its history. You know it’s a historically minority neighborhood and we want to retain folks who currently live there, but we want to invite new people who work in our community to this exciting neighborhood, adjacent to the park,” Brown said.
In addition, at Nassau and Oscar streets, there will be Oscar Apartments.
The development will include 52 units, 39 of which leaders said will be affordable. The area median income for this development is 50 to 100 percent.
James Jordon, with Jordon Development Company, is one of the developers in that area.
“The project that we’re doing, the reason why it’s significant is because it ensures that you get some diversity in the area. diversity of incomes in our mixed income project,” Jordon said. “We have different products and different projects going on that we hope will address different needs,” he said.
There are also 252 units going up near the Holloway Trail. Nearly 190 units are slated as affordable. The development will be called the Lighthouse Unity.
“The additional sites that we have access to, by the park, will feature additional housing opportunities that range in affordability and serve a diverse workforce population,” Brown said.
Some residents said they have concerns.
“It’s misleading when you say ‘affordable,'” Butler said. “Affordable for who? There’s a large number of people out there that have limited resources, and somewhere along the line, we got to do something to help those people.”
Brown said developments like Riley at Overbrooks and Gateway at the Green, will target those with a lower level of income even more.
“We are reaching way down to a lower level of income that we’re being able to provide, in some of the housing developers we are supporting, and that we are partnering on,” Brown said. “So, you heard about two of those today, getting down to 20 percent AMI–area median income is unprecedented.”
For those worried about gentrification, Flemming said there’s no need for concern.
“This plan is the opposite of that. This plan is to make sure that does not happen. We are not pushing people out,” Flemming said. “This will help try to reverse that. We’re looking at people that work every day, but don’t have a place to stay. That’s one of our priorities.”
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