Major developments proposed for downtown Spartanburg


SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Some major developments are in the works for downtown Spartanburg. 

The city’s design review board looked at new proposals Tuesday. 

An empty lot at the coroner of North Church and St. John streets is the proposed home of a six-story Cambria Hotel with 119 rooms and parking lot. 

“On the ground floor we’ve got a really nice restaurant and bar,” said Choli Aronson with Overcash Demitt Architects based in Charlotte. 

The property at 179 North Church Street is across the street from the Montgomery Building, which is undergoing major renovations.

“Downtown Spartanburg is booming right now,” said one of the project’s owners/developers Nilesh Patel. Cambria is under the Choice Hotels brand. “Cambria is one of the luxury brands. It competes with the top, upscale hotels.”

It’s growth evidenced by the other proposals on the Design Review Board’s agenda. 

“Just being a resident and someone who works downtown it’s been amazing to watch all this stuff take place,” said McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture Associate Principal William Gray. 

About a five-minute walk from the hotel project, developers are proposing a six-story mixed use building at the Smith’s Drugs store off East Main Street. Plans include adding a drive thru for the pharmacy along with 59 apartments on the stories above. The building would be the same height as the Aug W Smith building.

“They’re just taking down the building they’re in, staying downtown in a temporary space and then going back into their new building once it’s complete,” Gray said. 

That same architecture firm also proposed a new bowling alley with a restaurant and bar off West Main Street facing Morgan Square. 

The property at 127 W. Main St. will have an eight lane bowling alley on the lower level with a bar/seating area, along with a restaurant and separate event space on the main level. The developer hopes to have the restaurant open by next summer and the bowling alley opened by next fall. 

“We’re very excited,” said Spartanburg City Manager Chris Story. “Downtown Spartanburg is experiencing an exciting period of growth with new investment from a variety of points of view – very positive, high quality projects.”

The excitement didn’t stop the board from being critical of the proposed plans.

Board members expressed concern about the mixed use building’s bright yellow and orange colors, saying the appearance of the building seemed “busy” compared to other structures in downtown Spartanburg. They also did not like the efis (exterior insulation and finishing system) proposed for the hotel, saying it’s preferred to use more long-term quality material on downtown structures. 

“Making sure that the projects that we add to our downtown are thoughtfully designed and well executed,” said Story. “Optimizing downtown is not a race. It’s a process of adding one quality ingredient after the other so the emphasis on the right choices at the right times is one that city council and our many partners in improving downtown ascribe to.” 

The design review board approved the bowling alley and conceptual review for the mixed use building. 

Though board members expressed support, the hotel did not get preliminary approval because of design concerns, and the developers will come back to the board with recommended changes.

Story said city staff and the developers believe downtown can support another hotel. 

“We have found that market studies and other pieces of information point to the demand increasing considerably,” Story said. “We also know the savvy teams behind these projects have done their homework and their due diligence about the economic viability of these undertakings.” 

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