GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Big changes are in the works for the Augusta Road Corridor (ARC) . It’s an area leaders said has been underserved.

“It’s flanked on either side by 85, and really it’s an area that’s in need of attention,” said Tee Coker, Assistant County Administrator for Community Planning and Development in Greenville County. “The area that we’re looking at is about a mile of Augusta Road. Half a mile north of 85, half of mile south,” he said.

Coker said the Augusta Road Corridor Strategic Plan is all about casting a vision for an underserved area of the community.

County staff said Councilman Ennis Fant, spearheaded this project and asked staff to work on it.

“This section of Greenville County basically from Mauldin Road and Augusta, all the way down to Pleasantburg and Augusta, has been neglected…just kind of blighted, and we felt there needed to be some change,” Fant said.

Leda Young, works at Pleasant Valley Connection, about a block away from the main corridor, and remembers what it used to be.

“We’re a part of the Pleasant Valley community. A lot of the businesses that were once there many years ago, the residents in that community had access to a lot of things that were there, that are no longer there. Things like grocery stores, restaurants, other shops that were there. Shopping centers that are no longer there. So yes, we’re very aware of what could be because we once seen it there,” Young said.  

“As the community continues to grow, and there are greater needs in the community, we need resources. We need access to those businesses for example, but we also have needs like transportation that we don’t always have access to,” Young said. “I think there’s a common need in that area such as greenspace, retail stores– like grocery stores , and other businesses to come back,” she said.

Fant said they’ve been looking at ways to revitalize this area for two years.

“Being so close to Interstate 385, we figured this would be a great time to try to do an Urban Development District, where we can transform this area, where you can have people live, work, recreate, play, all in the same area, reducing Greenville’s carbon footprint, higher density. We’re excited about it. We think it’s going to be huge win, not only for just that area, but we think for all of Greenville County,” Fant said.   

Coker also said they are looking at a possible mobility hub for transit.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the county held workshops to hear the community’s desires and concerns.

“Those challenges are related to housing, affordable housing the lack thereof. There are underserved populations who are living in substandard housing within this area. Those are folks who need some focused attention,” Coker said.

Planners then worked to construct a vision for the area, and presented it to the community Thursday night.

“It’ll look very different for one, the streetscape will kind of set the stage for types of land uses. You’ll see more pedestrian friendly uses,” Coker said. “You’ll see townhomes, you’ll see apartments–potentially you’ll see a new school with ball fields and such to go with it,” Coker said.

The county is also looking at ways to bring in a solution for the homeless populations and others in need of more resources.

“Another key idea that we’re exploring in partnership with others, that exist in other communities, it doesn’t exist yet in Greenville, but it’s this notion of supportive housing,” Coker said. “Really it’s basically a concept that takes very basic shelter and marries it with counseling, you know whatever issues folks may have, things that they’re struggling with in their life, that marries it with services to address those,” he said.

“People wanted to make sure obviously that the area is redeveloped, but at the same time we wanted to be sensitive to the people that’s already there. Long-time homeowners, but also make sure that we address the issue of job training and housing affordability, so all of that is included in this overall design. So, we wanted to make sure that there was no gentrification, and that nobody got left behind in this overall development concept,” Fant said.

The county is also looking at bringing more commercial spaces.

“We also think there’s potential for some commercial,” Coker said.

“If you can revitalize those areas with economic growth and investment, it also creates jobs and economic opportunity. The other thing we got to do is increase the household area median income, and the more income we can increase higher density, higher incomes, it creates more jobs. Then, that eliminates the problems of the food desserts that we’ve had for years and years and years,” Fant said.

“So, it’s a long-term process, but this project will check a lot of the ills boxes that the community had for a long time. So we’re excited about it,” Fant added.  

Coker said they hope this will create pathways forward for everyone, and Young said she hopes it brings hope back to this area of the county.

“I’m very excited about it because it’s always been a historic section of Greenville, and it’s a place that has some work that we need to do. Some places that aren’t thriving as they use to. So, I think everyone sees the benefit of the revitalization of the area, but what we want to do though is give everybody a place in that community. We don’t want anyone to feel like they no longer belong in the community,” Young said.

Coker said they will take what they’ve learned through the workshops and will refine their plans for the area.

Fant said this process could take some time. He said possibly five to seven years, due to things like land acquisitions, architectural designs, and more.

Click below to learn more about the Augusta Road Corridor Strategic Plan.