GREENVILLE — As talks of an open-air structure downtown continue to progress, the Greenville Downtown Development Authority has shifted focus of potential locations from a vacant lot at the corner of M-57 and M-91 to the Lafayette Park area between Cass and Grove streets.
The DDA weighed in on different options for both the structure and where it may wind up after a report by City Manager George Bosanic, who had discussions with officials from Fremont and Gaylord which both have open air structures.
One of the worries the DDA has expressed in the past is usage and whether or not the structure would be utilized enough to justify being built. The response Bosanic got from officials in
Fremont and Gaylord was they were surprised by the variety of uses that cropped up.
“What they found was that there is a myriad of uses that they didn’t think of that come up,” said Bosanic, noting that in one community the high school senior class had a graduation event there. “There are things they anticipate it being used for, but the community comes up with ‘can we do this or can we do that.’”
Another cause of concern the DDA had expressed in the past was who would maintain and operate the structure. In both Fremont and Gaylord, the municipalities’ DDA was tasked with that and both entities used funds in order to do so.
In both cases, the structures do not generate money and the overseeing entities budget money for operation and maintenance. Both communities do have fee structures for renting the facility, which for both sets on public property. Fremont’s building is located in a parking lot while Gaylord’s structure stretches over a downtown street, which is shut down during events.
In looking at the structures in both Fremont and Gaylord, the DDA moved discussions forward on the structure itself, what it would look like, and the feasibility of where it could go in order to best serve the downtown and also allow for future additions and expansions.
In looking at the area of Lafayette Park as well as the parking lots east of it, which the city owns, DDA members found a lot of potential. There is plenty of parking, it’s close to downtown, it is land already owned by the city and would allow for future add ons.
“It certainly sounds like we found a lot of good reasons to look at this location,” said DDA Vice Chairman David Ralph.
But the conversation didn’t advance far beyond that because the DDA would need to finalize a location and look into potential costs, as much has already been spent on plans for a structure at the vacant lot at M-57 and M-91, Ralph noted.
“We’re still in the exploratory phase,” he said.
DDA members agreed to pick the conversation back up at the next regular meeting, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. March 11.