University Ridge redevelopment passes unanimously at Greenville Co. Council

University Ridge redevelopment project renderings. (Source: Foster + Partners)

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – Six Greenville County Council members gathered at County Square Friday morning to explain why are opposed to the current plan to redevelop the County Square site.

Currently, the plan that has been approved is to keep county government offices on the same site along University Ridge, which will be developed to also include a new business / residential living complex.

View a slideshow of the proposed redevelopment renderings here.

A motion to move county government offices off that redevelopment site and instead to an empty office building on Halton Road did not move forward recently. The vote was 6-6.

The six in favor of moving the offices to a different location laid out their concerns on Friday.

“This just doesn’t make sense from a standpoint of money and what it’s going to cost the taxpayers,” Councilman Willis Meadows said.

Meadows said the current plan will cost the county at least $160 million. He and the five others opposed want an alternate plan to relocate county government to other existing buildings on the market and leave the current site completely available for redevelopment.

The opposing councilmembers all agree the redevelopment will be great for growth and tax revenue in the county, but they believe moving the county offices will offer the lowest initial cost and eventual return.

“Our question is, if revenue generation is the goal, why are we using 20-25 percent of the property for county offices, which generate no money?” Asked Councilman Lynne Ballard.

The initial plan was to sell the property for $60 million and build a new county government complex for $60 million, but Meadows said the total cost has jumped to more than $160 million and is likely to keep growing.

Ballard said he has pitched another plan to buy existing properties on the market and move county offices and the health department to those sites.

Ballard said that plan would only cost $63 million and would allow the developer to begin working on the County Square site two years earlier than the current plan calls for.

The councilmen put together a list of ten reason why they are opposed to the current redevelopment plan.

Those ten reasons are:

  1. There is a lack of transparency
  2. Getting different answers to the same question
  3. Council has no idea what the cost of the new building will be
  4. The handling of another property raised a lot of questions
  5. There has been a loss of confidence and trust in leadership.
  6. Everything that has been proposed can be accomplished for less than $65 million
  7. It is possible to save taxpayers $100 million for the same end product.
  8. The entire 37 acres of current County Square lot can be redeveloped
  9. Construction could begin up to two years earlier
  10. At $2 million per acre, the county could earn another $74 million.

Councilman Joe Dill, who was not at the meeting, said the motion that is currently on the table for County Council is one to end the project.

Greenville County spokesman Bob Mihalic said that motion to stop the project in its entirety was filed by Councilman Michael Barnes earlier this month..

The group of opposing councilmen hope to file an amendment to that motion to remove the offices from the redevelopment plan.

Dill said the opposing council members will not have enough support to change the current plan.

Dill said since since the council previously voted unanimously to approve the project, plans have been in motion and contracts already laid out. He said one of those contracts requires the county offices to remain within Greenville city limits.

PREVIOUSLY - University Ridge redevelopment passes unanimously at Greenville Co. Council

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