SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — The City of Spartanburg paved way to build a minor league baseball stadium and multi-use development in downtown Spartanburg.
Spartanburg City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance Monday to enter into a development agreement with Johnson Development Associates, Inc. Council Member Rob Rain abstained from the vote due to his employment with Johnson Development Associates, Inc.
The development, known as Project Core, includes a 3,500 seat minor league baseball stadium, more than 375 apartments, 150-room hotel, 200,000 square feet of office space, parking facilities accommodating at least 1,500 vehicles, public plaza and other related infrastructure. It is expected to cost $425 million.
“This is the largest economic development in the city’s history,” Chris Story, Spartanburg’s city manager, said.
“I’m truly excited about this possibility and where this takes us,” Mayor Jerome Rice added.
Council members and residents had concerns about the project, including that none of the new apartments will be considered affordable housing.
“There are a lot of minority communities that live in downtown Spartanburg that will undoubtedly be affected,” a resident said.
The project includes the construction of a new hotel. However, according to the agreement between the city and developer, no additional hotels can be built in the downtown district for three years once the hotel opens its doors. Council members were split on this.
“Do we believe that limiting future hotel product is good for Spartanburg?” Meghan Smith, the city’s District 1 council member, asked. “My answer is no. I don’t believe that it is.”
“Three years is not that long,” Janie Salley, the city’s District 5 council member, said.
City Manager Chris Story called the project a “once in a generation opportunity.” He also said it will create jobs and drive traffic to existing downtown businesses.
“We anticipate that the ball team owner will have upwards of 30 employees full time, and, of course, on game days, many dozens more will come in to support game day activities,” he explained.
The city hopes the baseball stadium will be built by Spring 2025.