The City of Greenville took the first step in construction of the 60-acre Unity Park on Thursday with the start of demolition of its former Public Works campus on the corner of Mayberry and Hudson streets.
Also Thursday, the city announced that Michelin Corporate Foundation will be a sponsor of Unity Park. Michelin joins Auro Hotels, which is sponsoring the Auro Bridge; SYNNEX Corporation, which is sponsoring the SYNNEX Share the Magic Playground; the Community Foundation; TD Charitable Foundation; and Verizon as announced partners of the park. In addition, local businessman Wayne Trotter has donated land adjacent to the park to the Greenville Housing Fund for affordable housing.
To date, private funding and grant awards total more than $6 million for the project that involves rehabilitation of a half-mile stretch of the Reedy River, restoration of the historic Mayberry Park built in 1927 and construction of playgrounds, pedestrian bridge, gathering hall and visitor center. The city has committed $28 million of tourism-generated taxes, $5 million in storm water funds and $2.3 million in utility line burial money toward the $40 million first phase of the park scheduled to open in 2021.
“Unity Park is a transformative public-private partnership that will create affordable housing for hundreds of families and build a park where the children who live in the surrounding neighborhoods can play with children from across our community,” said Greenville Mayor Knox White. “Unity Park will be a park where everyone feels welcome.”
First envisioned in a 1907 city plan, the 2002 Reedy River Master Plan Project by Clemson University’s Center for Community Growth and Change described a park on this site. Residents have engaged in the park’s design in community meetings held as part of the Greenville Park Master Plan published in 2013 and the Greenville West Side Comprehensive Plan published in 2014 as part of the Connections for Sustainability project. The 2014 report also recommended design elements for a city park along the Reedy River that would substantially expand the existing Mayberry Park.
Among the park development’s guiding principles is building upon the early plans, conversations and ideas generated during the past decade, fostering authentic civic engagement, protecting and enhancing the Reedy River, enhancing connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods and enabling equitable development and affordable housing opportunities nearby. The city has dedicated land it owns in the nearby Southernside neighborhood for affordable housing through the Greenville Housing Fund, in which it has contributed $3.5 million with another $1 million in funding in fiscal year 2020.
“Cities around the country are working to create open green space and striving to overcome the threat of gentrification,” White said. “Greenville is taking steps to create a bulwark against these market forces to ensure that nearby residents who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the park can stay in their homes.”