Greenville DDA: ‘Downtown catalyst’ still being considered


By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 9:37 am on Wednesday, January 15, 2014

 

GREENVILLE — Members of the Greenville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) continue to mull the idea of a downtown structure to house events such as a farmers market, even as they figure out feasibility and funding.

The idea for a structure was first brought up in 2012 as a way to promote activities downtown and potentially move the farmer’s market back downtown. Since then, the DDA has been discussing the type of structure, how it will be funded and maintained and who will run the activities held there.

The group has gone back and forth on whether to move ahead with the projected, coined “downtown catalyst,”  in order to generate interest in events or wait until private parties are on board with the project before moving forward.
“We’ve discussed the chicken or the egg argument over and over,” said Vice Chairman David Ralph. “To keep this going I think we will need to better define what it would do for us. We need a design of the structure and what it will be.”

The conversation during Tuesday’s meeting, from which DDA members Roy LaMarte, Jim Hopkins and Tim Mulcahy were absent, revolved around whether or not the private sector would step in and express interest in what the building would be used for.

“We aren’t the ones who are going to make this successful,” Mayor John Hoppough said. “We try to make it attractive for people to use and then maybe promote it once the seed takes hold. We plant the seed. We’re the catalyst.”

Secretary Deb Huch agreed.

“We need someone to put some skin in it,” she said, noting it wasn’t feasible for the DDA to build the structure and also create events there.

The idea is for a permanent structure to house some form of regular community activity, such as a market, and also provide a gathering point for residents. The issue, DDA members say, is no one from the private sector has expressed interest in developing anything.

LaMarte, who chairs the DDA, has previously said he believes building the structure will create that interest and has seen it work in other communities.

City Manager George Bosanic said he will contact communities similar in nature to Greenville with structures of the type Greenville is looking into and discuss how the events were funded, who ran them and whether or not they were successful.

In other business, the DDA re-elected its same officers for the 2014 calendar year.

LaMarte will again chair the group, with Ralph serving as vice chair, Mulcahy as treasurer and Huch as secretary.

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