City wants downtown living to be affordable.

The city of Greenville master plan for downtown is focused on key initiatives that can advance the economic and physical success of the district in the next five to 10 years.

The plan calls for a focus on public and private investment "that will attract a talented workforce to downtown." In addition, the city wants to grow the employment base and "create attractive opportunities for young businesses in the context of high-performing regional urban centers within a two-hour travel time. "This is in order to support and sustain a growing jobs sector with competitive wage and salary benefits," the report said.

The master plan also highlights the need "to creatively address the economic gentrification and dislocation of long-time residents and families forced to move out of downtown as taxes and redevelopment pressures grow." Affordable housing, transportation and workforce training become important components to a holistic approach to retention and improvement, the report said.

"During the master plan process, affordability was a concern for different downtown stakeholders," said Mary Douglas Hirsch, downtown development manager for Greenville."In downtown, half of those below 30% area median income are heavily cost-burdened, paying over 50% of their income on housing.

"The downtown master plan discusses the importance of affordable housing strategies for the city to ensure downtown housing is attainable by all to avoid an imbalance of affordability," she said. The strategies include suggestions to require an affordable housing component in all residential development when disposing of public land; to institute an affordable housing requirement as a condition of receiving public support, and to consider investments in transportation that make it easier for low-and moderate-income workers to commute into downtown, she said.

There is more space downtown for the development of affordable housing, Hirsch said, adding that the city would like to see affordable and workforce housing opportunities built throughout, including downtown.

"Prior to the downtown master plan's adoption in August, the city for years had already been working on affordable housing, as evidenced by the numerous successful projects by the city's community development department and through the establishment of new resources like the Greenville Housing Trust Fund," she said.

Hirsch said the total downtown population is 15,700 and is expected to increase to between 18,900 and...

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