The Upstate SC

VOL12ISS2 2016

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — UPSTATE SC | VOLUME 12 — ISSUE 2 32 SPARTANBURG Spartanburg BY LYNNE BRANDON The lights are on in Spartanburg this year. Literally. Public art by internationally renowned light and digital media artist Erwin Redl with LED lights were unveiled in October in locations across the city. The goal of the installations is to transform open spaces and create safer, more vibrant neighborhoods. And in the process bring people together with the power of art. The nine temporary art installations known as Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, was seen in only four U.S. cities as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Placed throughout Spartanburg, each installation highlighted something unique to the location. "Mobile Suspension" is a multicolored mobile curtain floating above the center lawn of Denny's Plaza giving a kaleidoscope effect.The LED installations will remain "on" until April 2017. Seeing Spartanburg is one of many ways the city is transforming how it lives, works and plays. The energy and enthusiasm in Spartanburg, particularly in the downtown district, is palpable. Hotels are springing up downtown alongside new restaurants, bars and other spaces. The city's first downtown grocer, Hub City Co- op, opened in April. It is also the first co-op in South Carolina. The renovated VW car dealership is the perfect location for the community owned full-service retail grocery store. "This is a win for everyone," said Spartanburg spokesperson, Will Rothschild. "Folks who want to live downtown want this so they don't have to get in a car to buy groceries." The change is an indication of the transformation undergoing the former textile town. Downtown is where businesses and locals want to be during and after hours. More than 70 new businesses (office, restaurant and retail space) have opened downtown since 2013, with 13 percent growth in restaurant business from 2015. Residential space is at a fifty percent increase in downtown from five years ago and occupancy is at 98 percent. Seven significant historic buildings are under contract or renovation downtown, a leading indicator of more development to come. The historic 1920s Montgomery Building stood empty for years and many feared it would be razed. The town stepped in and renovations are scheduled to start in 2017. During its heyday, the building was a business and entertainment center and once housed a theater, post office and South Carolina's first AM radio station, WSPA. The Montgomery Building retains its important location within walking distance of the USC-Upstate George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics, Spartanburg's new downtown Marriott hotel and a wide variety of shops and restaurants. The restored mixed-use $25 million project will preserve the building's unique architecture and historical significance. Its renovation is also seen as a vital connector to the thriving downtown and the Chapman Cultural Center. Hotels are a prime indicator of the economic health of a city. Construction is underway or soon to begin for several brands including AC Marriott scheduled for 2017. The design driven, 10-story hotel featuring a rooftop bar is the first of its brand in South Carolina. The hotel is projected to bring in more than 30,000 visitors annually when it opens. "The transformation of Spartanburg in the last few years is remarkable," said Corry Oakes, president and CEO of OTO Development. "We have a great blend of higher education, strong manufacturing bases and a growing white collar base with an emphasis on downtown." OTO and Johnson Development Corporation are partners in building the AC Hotel by Marriott (AC Hotel is the fast growing hotel brand in Europe) expected to be completed in 2017. The hotel will showcase a curated collection of modern art from Black Mountain College as seen in the Johnson Collection, a private collection dedicated to fine art of the American South. Oakes points to Spartanburg native, George Johnson of Johnson Development as the greatest entrepreneur in South Carolina's history. "The Johnson family could have built this hotel anywhere but chose to champion their hometown," said Oakes. The family's connection to Spartanburg continues with son Geordy Johnson, president of Johnson Development. all lit up, co-op grocery, transforming

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