Greenville City Council moves forward with plan to look at further development

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – During Monday’s meeting, the Greenville City Council voted 5-1 to move forward with possibly bringing in a group to look at development options at the old Imperial Tobacco Warehouse site in Uptown.

The site has long been described by city leaders as a pivotal piece in the revitalization efforts of the Dickinson Ave. corridor.

“What we do here could make a difference than just doing something, and doing something that could really helps keep progress going down there,” said Councilman Calvin Mercer.

During the meeting, council heard from Michael Lemanski, director of the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) with UNC’s School of Government.

Lemanski’s group focuses on helping cities attract private investments in their downtown areas. Over the past five years, the group has completed 74 projects, including notable ones in Wilmington, Salisbury and Kannapolis.

Lemanski said his group helps to take out part of the risk investors take on when getting involved with land in downtown areas.

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said the group’s experience is impressive.

“This is an interesting time to have you guys here. You know a lot of different things happening, a lot of pieces coming together,” he said. “We need people who have done this before.”

When council approved their budget in June, they agreed to allot more than $1 million to purchase the land. Clean up has been on going, but has had setbacks.

Recently, a underground vault was found that contained contaminates, an $80,000 expense the city hopes will be the last surprise.

Initial discussions of the land have surrounded the possibility of building young professional apartments with retail space and a parking garage.

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