A proposed mixed-use complex in Greenville’s West End is looking to incorporate a historic structure. Revitilzation of two acres at the corner of Wardlaw and Academy Streets would include retail, about 240 apartment units and valet parking, as well as the McClaren Medical Shelter, which was one of a few places African Americans in Greenville could receive healthcare in Greenville during the Jim Crow era.
The developers are planning on naming the complex “The McClaren” for Dr. E.E. McClaren, who opened the clinic next door to his house on Wardlaw Street.
Now, community activists are working to have the current building not only preserved in the development, but also added to the historic registry.
Glenda Morrison-Fair, who is a Greenville County School Board member, was born at the medical shelter.
“Everything was first class,” Morrison-Fair said. “You felt first class. You walked into the clinic and everybody in that clinic made you feel like, ‘I’m going to get the best treatment in America.'”
A lot has changed since she grew up in the West End.
“None of the apartments existed,” she said.
Now, apartment complexes tower over the former clinic tucked just off Academy Street, and another development is set to go where it currently stands. “The McClaren” development would add another 14,000 square feet of residential and retail space to the area, as well as a plaza with public art and fountains.
“We’re in the process now of getting approvals from the city design review board for relocating the shelter and getting our site plan approval,” said Scott Johnston, who is the founder of Johnston Design Group. “And our goal is to break ground of construction around July of this year.”
The plan is to move the shelter about 70 feet toward Academy Street. Community activists want the building to remain intact so that if can be registered as a historic property.
“There’s still some concerns as citizens that we have that there’s still some changes that we are not in agreement with, and that is leaving the foundation,” said Pamela Adams, who is one of the people who has been working to preserve the medical shelter.
Johnston said their team is working with preservationists to keep Dr. McClaren’s legacy intact.
Johnston also said these type of developments typically take about 18 months to construct and that there are talks to preserve 10 percent of the apartment units for “workforce housing.”
“The City of Greenville has strategically identified a need for housing for folks that work in downtown Greenvile, but can’t afford to live in downtown Greenville….like folks in the service industry, restaurants and hotels, police, you know public servants,” Johnston said.