Architects hand $111M conference center plans to city.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 6 print edition of GSA Business Report

LS3P and LNM Architects are passing the torch back to the city of Greenville. What happens to an estimated $111 million downtown conference center is now out of their hands.

"We're wrapping up the master planning phase this month," Brian Tennyson, principal of LNM, told GSA Business Report at a public presentation of the plans for the center on Aug. 16 at the Greenville Water system headquarters.

After that, the strategy was presented during a council work session and remains under negotiation in a confluence of city leaders and developers Phil Hughes and Bo Aughtry, who donated the land to the city.

"How long that negotiation will take? Who knows," Tennyson said.

In the meantime, options abound. One option nestles a five-level center against the intersections of Falls Park Drive and Academy Street and River Street. Another four-level option lies closer to the river at the north end of the seven-acre parcel.

"It's really by looking at the scheme to the south, (one can see) that it offers a look at a little bit wider site and the opportunity to get the very best proportion inside the function of spaces," John Edwards, principal of LS3P, said. "But at the same time, it creates both some challenges and opportunities in terms of what they would do with private development as it leads up to the river."

The riverside option has an obvious appeal. But whatever part of the property is not used could become the site of an adjacent hotel, said Edwards. Or, if the developers so choose, the hotel could be built above the conference center, similar to the Aloft Marriott built above a city parking garage on North Laurens Street.

Tennyson said renderings presented during the meeting will probably end up looking very different from the final product, no matter which of the options the council takes.

Still, as it stands, the sheer square footage of the project, 225,000 square feet, dwarfs the event space provided by the second largest competitor, the Hyatt Regency's 14,381 square feet, according to the study featured in the presentation from Aug. 23's City Council work session

Project components featured across the...

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