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Imperial site development discussion on council's agenda

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Ginger Livingston

Monday, October 7, 2019

A development company will pitch its proposal to build to build a hotel and market rate apartments on the former Imperial Tobacco warehouse site at today’s Greenville City Council meeting.

Seacoast Communities representatives will present their “vision” for the two-phase project when the council meets at 6 p.m. in the third-floor City Council chambers, 200 W. Fifth St.

Councilman Will Bell also has asked for discussions on issues involving littering, sidewalks and Phase 3 of the city’s greenway project.

The city has been working to develop the 6-acre Imperial site since 2017, after it was purchased for about $1.04 million and contamination was cleaned up using a $400,000 Environmental Protection Agency brownfield grant.

The initial plan was to develop office space on the site, but according to the council’s agenda information, financing couldn’t be secured because there wasn’t enough interest in pre-leasing space.

The city and Seacoast continued discussions on other possible projects for the site.

Seacoast is proposing a two-phase project. It has proposed a boutique hotel with a minimum of 90 rooms be built.

Andrew Schmidt, executive director of Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the destination industry defines boutique hotels as small hotels with 10 and 120 rooms with unique features and amenities.

Schmidt said the facilities often are in unique locations or in buildings that once housed a different activity, such as The O’Neil, which opened in a former bank in Kinston.

Many boutique hotels operate in the urban centers of towns and cities.

Seacoast’s next phase would be non-student, market-rate apartments.

According to the City Council agenda, the project would consist of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom units marketed to young professionals. The agenda says there would be no “quad style” units, which allow multiple individuals to live in a single apartment. The agenda states that leases would be structured so parents cannot co-sign on the lease.

The agenda said the two phases represent a combined investment of $41 million.

The property initially housed the Imperial Tobacco until 1977. It was later used as a general goods and materials warehouse but was abandoned around 2000.

While developers eyed the structure for mix-used projects, the building was destroyed by fire in 2008.

South Tar River Greenway

Councilman Will Bell said he plans to ask that three items involving the South Greenway Phase 3 project be pulled from the council’s consent agenda for discussion.

“I don’t plan to take any action to stop it or anything along those lines. I’m excited about the progress we are taking,” Bell said. It’s a project with a lot of public interest.

“I thought it would be good to highlight the progress we’re making on that project,” he said.

The project will build a greenway stretching eight-tenths of a mile from west of Pitt Street to east of Memorial Drive. It will require building an underpass at the CSX railroad bridge.

This phase of the greenway involves construction of approximately 0.80 miles of 10-foot-wide paved multi-use trail along the south side of the Tar River. The trail will extend the existing greenway trail that ends west of Pitt Street and continue to the western terminus of Colonial Avenue, east of Memorial Drive.

The lowest bid exceeded the city’s budget, but an additional $703,191 in supplemental funding was obtained from the state Department of Transportation. The city has to pay a $175,798 match to receive the extra money.

The city also has to pay CSX Transportation $172,971 to reimburse the company for costs it incurs during the greenway’s construction.

The city must approve the contracts with NCDOT, CSX Transportation and award the nearly $3.2 million contact to Fred Smith Company to build the greenway.

Litter cameras

Bell said a recent presentation by student members of Plastic Free NC/ Love a Sea Turtle prompted him to seek a discussion about using movable litter cameras as a possible means to enforce littering laws.

“The movable litter camera was their idea and I thought it was the one was most readily able to be talked about and acted on,” he said.

“As a person who has led clean up efforts in our city … it is something important to me,” Bell said. “While we have a ton of volunteers out there helping to make our city more beautiful, I figured it was important to have a discussion about what can be done to stop the cause of the trash, which is littering.”

The Council also is scheduled to discuss incomplete sidewalks and how to limit obstructions on sidewalks.

Workshop

The City Council is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. in City Hall Room 337 for presentations about the city arts district, an entrance sign for the city and presentation on a new city website.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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