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Greenville, with a metropolitan population of 842,853 as of 2012, is the sixth largest municipality and the fastest growing urban area in South Carolina. It is the largest city in the Greenville metropolitan area, which is the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in South Carolina. Greenville is located approximately halfway between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina along Interstate 85, making it a popular destination for corporate growth in the eastern US. Greenville has gained as one of the “Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the U.S.”
Greenville is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and was at one time the retail center of the region. However, Greenville’s downtown district began to languish in the 1960s as shopping centers lured retailers to the suburbs. In response, the City started a downtown renewal project, initially focusing on improving the streetscape along a portion of Main Street in the Central Business District. Planning began in the 1970s as city leaders wanted to implement some of the urban features seen in many European town centers.
In the 1980s, the city worked with consultants to develop and implement a downtown master plan and encouraged public-private investment partnerships which resulted in the city’s first luxury convention hotel on Main Street.
Through the 1990s Greenville redeveloped an abandoned but historically significant industrial area in the West End Historic District into a thriving performing arts complex. The city’s initiative to invest in this otherwise overlooked urban center at a time when such revitalization wasn’t popular, not only successfully encouraged private investment, but also eventually gained recognition from cities and towns across the United States.
Although the majority of Greenville-area residents live outside of the downtown area, the last decade has brought a significant increase in downtown activity as new luxury condos, apartments and lofts have been built and more businesses have moved their offices to the now thriving area.