The Greenville City Council hosted a virtual workshop on April 5 which consisted of a presentation from Hunden Strategic Partners (HSP) on the existing 500 Foot Rule in downtown Greenville, North Carolina, and the city’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant Project.
HSP President Rob Hunden led the first presentation and said HSP works to invest in the transformation of communities through real estate. He said HSP was hired to conduct a review of the existing 500 Foot Rule for the separation of bars and drinking establishments, which was enacted in Greenville in 2010.
“The rule states that no public or private club located in any district shall be located within a 500 foot radius of existing or proved public or private club as measured from the nearest lot line,” Hunden said.
The 500 Foot Rule unknowingly steers away investors, Hunden said. He said this prevents growth in a specific area that’s intended to speak to more mature and diverse audiences.
The uptown area consists of several vacant buildings, according to Hunden. He said the 500 Foot Rule restricts the vacant properties from being bought and turned into businesses that have more than 50% alcohol sales.
Hunden said there are various ways the City of Greenville can promote market entry and improve conditions that already exist.
“There are just general framing things that you can do to improve the overall look, feel and safety of the uptown area including landscaping, public art and green space,” Hunden said.
Other improvement recommendations Hunden offered included the introduction of specific authority groups designated to the nighttime downtown area, the increase of non-alcohol related programs or events and public and private sector partnership on commercial development.
In response to the presentation, District 4 Greenville City Council Member Rick Smiley questioned what would be put in place if the city got rid of the 500 Foot Rule.
Smiley said there have been improvements in the uptown area in the last 10 years, and the 500 Foot Rule may have had an influence in doing so. However, moving forward, he said times have changed and strategies need to be updated.
“I think I’d like to see staff come back with, you know, additional recommendations about how we update that strategy and if they feel like they need to, you know, talk to outside professionals,” Smiley said.
The second item on the council’s workshop agenda was a presentation on Greenville’s BUILD Grant, which began with an overview from Kimley-Horn Project Manager Dan Robinson.
In the time since a public meeting that occurred in November 2020, Robinson said the project planning stage has grown from 30% to 60%. He said there are a number of projects which are referred to as Project A, B, C, D, E, F and G.
Project A is the South Tar River Greenway, Project B is the Moye Boulevard Sidewalk Expansion, Projects C, D and E are to implement pedestrian amenities located on West Fifth Street, Project F is a Millennial Connector and Project G is the Town Common Connector, according to Robinson.
“These projects are obviously to improve safety access and connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists along the facilities and are greatly needed in this community,” Robinson said. “Which is thriving and growing with students and a lot of active constituents.”
Crosswalk improvements and pedestrian signals have been added to the South Tar River Greenway in Project A, Robinson said. He said the Moye Boulevard Sidewalk Expansion in Project B will retain the existing five-foot sidewalk, but implement accommodations for bicyclists by providing them with the outside two lanes.
Project C proposes a roundabout to be added at the Tyson’s Street and West 14th Street interaction, Robinson said, and an additional roundabout to be added at the West Fifth Street intersection of Albermale and Elizabeth Street.
“This facility’s goals are in concert with the master plan that was produced for the City of Greenville for streetscape,” Robinson said.
Project C, D and E, Robinson said, are to add in as many pedestrian amenities as possible from the Tyson Street roundabout to Pitt Street.
Robinson said the millennial connector, Project F, which is an abandoned railroad bed between Dickenson Avenue, Tenth Street and Ficklen Street, is planned for a 10-foot multi use path to provide a location for students who pass through to the East Carolina University Millennial Campus.
Project G, the Town Common connector, connects the ECU area to the Town Common Park, according to Robinson.
“We’re proposing a new pavilion with an overhanging roof for public education and for community use,” Robinson said.
The workshop meeting concluded past the designated time frame, and part two of the BUILD Grant presentation was said to be added to the agenda of the regular City Council meeting at 6 p.m.