The mills ran around the clock cranking out the fabric that clothed America. Hard working men and women lived, work, played and prayed in the Poinsett Highway area. It was once the economic hub of Greenville, but time has taken its tool on this proud community.
“Neighborhoods have a life cycle to them,” says Council Chairman Butch Kirven. “This area has an old life cycle, so the time is now for some renovation and renewal.”
The mills no longer function, but the Poinsett Highway Corridor is poised to play a new role. It is the gateway between downtown Greenville, Furman University and all things in the northwest portion of Greenville County. While many businesses do flourish in this community, there is still much more that can be done. The desire to bring new life to a great section of the county is what spurred the creation of the Poinsett Corridor Revitalization Coalition, a private/public partnership committed to sustainable economic development of the area.
“We are not simply looking for ways to just beautify a section of highway,” says Furman President and PCRC member Ron Smolla. “We’re looking at ways to rejuvenate and create positive economic momentum.”
The first targeted area for renovation has been dubbed the “Poinsett District,” a ¼ mile stretch between Hammett Road and Gantt Street just outside the city of Greenville in the County. Ideas that were presented County Council included conceptual drawings of a landscaped gateway, sidewalks, improved signage, green spaces, mixed used developments, and more.
“This goes beyond the highway,” says J.D. Martin, Arbor Engineering. “We can recycle this community and create a new place to live and work.”
“This project has the ability to create a ripple effect on the surrounding area by connecting Brutontown, Washington Heights, and Poe Mill communities.” says GCRA Executive Director Martin Livingston.
The presentation was well received by members of County Council.
“I’m thrilled about this idea,” said Councilor Xanthene Norris. “This is something that we can do.”
“This is important and we need to do it and do it right,” said Councilor Jim Burns. “This can be a great example of success with private and public working together.”
Members of the Poinsett Corridor Revitalization Coalition say the project has great moment and small indication of progress will soon become visible. But they warn that this is a “marathon and not a sprint.”
PCRC member J.D. Martins says, “It’s a very determined effort to make sure there is an economic development here that is good for the area and all citizens of Greenville County.”