Greenville Summit was condemned 40 years ago. Today, it’s a statement of what’s possible for affordable housing as rents continue to climb.
President Joe Eddy of JE Properties, a property developer that owns more than 12,000 properties from Massachusetts to Florida, joined Greenville Mayor Knox White as Eddy presented White with an award June 13 for the city council’s efforts to promote affordable housing.
Keeping downtown affordable
“It’s amazing how beautiful everything (in Greenville) is,” Eddy said. “One of the downsides to having a beautiful city is housing affordability.”
JE Properties purchased the 102-unit Greenville Summit building at 201 W. Washington St. in 2018 with the hopes of improving the building without public funds and keeping the apartments affordable. The basement was renovated, with a game room, community room and small exercise area added. The lobby got a full makeover, giving it a more high-end look while seniors are charged only 30% of their income for rent. There are one-bedroom and studio units available.
JE Properties took advantage of the Bailey Bill, which in South Carolina allows for tax breaks for the rehabilitation of historic buildings where the property taxes are locked in for 20 years to the pre-renovation value in order to encourage more developers to invest in older buildings.
The Bailey Bill has never been used in concert with affordable housing measures, according to Eddy. They put in $2 million to renovate the property, finishing the project in 2020. They had hoped to have a ribbon-cutting at that time, but pandemic concerns kept any fanfare at bay.
“This is a beautiful space — it looks like the lobby of the Hyatt Hotel,” Mayor Knox White said. “It’s done with such quality… that you can’t beat it.”
Eddy had several models of the Greenville Summit, one of which he presented to White at a news conference.
“Affordable housing is a priority for the city of Greenville,” White said. “It’s a priority all over the country.”
A storied history
This is the latest chapter in a building that was constructed in 1912 — the same year the Titanic sank — and has remained resilient despite being condemned in 1978.
The building was originally named Imperial Hotel; later, the name was changed to Hotel Greenville before it sat empty for nearly 10 years. While the living spaces are finished, renovators are still working on the original lobby, which housed a cigar shop, a barber shop and later a beauty salon. As work continues, they look to preserve the decorative ceilings, stone floors and wood-paneled walls for use as a retail space.
Residents have welcomed many of the improvements, including a well-manicured garden in the courtyard and amenities in the basement.
“It’s a comfortable place to be — right in the middle of town,” resident Isaac Johnson said. “I love it.”
201 W. Washington St., Greenville