GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – A new mixed-use development, could be changing Greenville’s skyline soon. It’s planned for the site of the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium.

City officials said the initial concepts for the mixed-use project have been approved by the City’s Design Review Board.

The Gateway Development project would be located along North Church Street, between East North Street and Beattie Place, according to the City.

As you drive in to downtown Greenville from I-385, you might see the plot of land that appears to be overgrown. It’s been empty for years.

(From: City of Greenville Design Review Board)

“I have lived here long enough to see the eyesore every time I leave downtown,” said resident Cherish Benton. “You really don’t see it coming in, but when you leave downtown, it’s just this green fenced in area and I’ve always wondered, well, what are they going to do with that.”

The nearly 1.8 acres of land still has remnants of the old Greenville Memorial Auditorium that was demolished in 1997.

“The site was the original site of the old Memorial Auditorium in Greenville. And when the new arena was built, the arena district sold this site and had the building demolished,” Greenville Mayor Knox White explained. “And it sat vacant all these many years. A lot of reasons for that, one is for a long time, the federal government had the site under contract to build the new federal courthouse and after many years, they changed their mind and built the federal courthouse about a block away.”

After several failed developments, change could finally be coming. The plan is to have 300 apartments.

“We’re very excited to see a developer with good financial firepower addressing this site,” said Mayor White. “It’s a tough site to build on, but particularly excited that they seem to have two things to make them particularly interesting to us. One is they have a track record of finding a way to build workforce housing – affordable housing – as part of their projects. So, at least they’re working toward that goal on this project.”

White said workforce housing is something they would like to see.

“I mean, definitely Greenville needs more affordable housing, especially with all the expensive apartments and condos that are being built downtown,” Benton said.

The proposed plans include two buildings. One is proposed as a 15 story building and the other is an eight story building. In addition, plans also show 6,600 square feet of commercial space in those buildings, and 335 parking spaces in the lower floors.

“Very exciting to see this, they’re looking at the arena -the Bon Secours center – and they’re going to be all about creating an entertainment space that ties directly into the arena,” said White. “The kind of place with restaurants and shops, and stores, that you might go to, before a game or before an event or maybe after an event. That’s something that we’ve been missing around the arena all these many years.”

Some people have commented on the city’s Facebook page with concerns about traffic and a desire for more greenspace in the area.

“Well, we don’t own the site,” White said. “It’s private property and it’s extremely expensive private property, so they’ll have to address that to the people who own the property.”

“We just have a great interest in what happens there,” added White. “So, we’ve tried to be helpful in bringing possible developers to see the site.”

Either way, some people said they are happy something good could be on the way.

“I love development, as long as it’s controlled, and we can keep the traffic patterns right,” said resident Scott Malouche.

“If they throw a little bit of affordable housing in there, then I love development and it’s a new entertainment district,” Malouche said. “We need that in Greenville. We’re growing.”

“I think the entire corridor, coming in on [Interstate] 385 – that’s a pretty unimpressive entrance into downtown Greenville now. But I know, really as a matter of fact, that once this project is solidified and it really happens – when that happens, a lot of other people are going to be interested in the piece of the property along, across the street from the arena, around the arena,” Mayor White said. “We’re interested in the city in improving the walkability the area, tying it in with wider sidewalks, making it more of an avenue and making the entire Bon Secours area an entertainment district.”

“You know people are moving to Greenville because we are expanding–because we are forward thinking. They’re not moving to Greenville because we’re stuck in the past. And so, I’m all for it. You know, if it’s going to bring more revenue to the city,” Benton said.

Mayor White said this is not a done deal just yet.

“It’s not a done deal until it is. The project still has to go before the Design Review Board to further refine the architecture. So, what you see now, is not exactly what it’s going to look like. It may be close to it, but not exactly,” Mayor White said.

There’s no word yet on when the project will return to the board for further approval.