Greenville Mayor Knox White, who has been in office since 1995, says the city’s transformation from an empty downtown to a “place where people want to be” was intentional, and boils down to a few essential components: reinvention, mixed-use, residential and personality.
However, as highlighted during an evening “fireside” chat with White, City Council member Russell Stall and local attorney Merl Code during the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Regional Canvas Benchmarking Workshop, partnerships with area businesses were also instrumental in bringing residents and retail back into the city and transforming Greenville’s outdoor space. Without area companies on board to put up a portion of the funding, projects may have stalled.
One project highlighted was the Reedy River Falls Park. The only natural waterfall in a downtown area in the country, the falls were hidden by a highway before the development of a park and pedestrian bridge.
White touted the city’s philanthropic spirit, with donations from residents and businesses funding the park, which opened in 2004.
The city also sold some of the property it owned downtown under the stipulation that residential units be included in anything built on the property—and later even donated land to be used for affordable housing.
This morning, Greenville officials are holding sessions with the BRAC group to discuss how the city forged public private partnerships. Daily Report PM will include more details from the canvas trip.