Council gives go-ahead to Montgomery Building redevelopment
Renovation of iconic downtown building set to begin in January
The renovation of perhaps Downtown Spartanburg’s most beloved and strategic historic building moved forward Monday night. Spartanburg City Council approved first reading of a development agreement with developer James Bakker, a crucial procedural step that will allow Bakker to move forward with his plans to renovate the building to include 9,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor, 9,000 square feet of office space on the second floor, and 72 residential units on floors three through 10.
The agreement includes several development incentives, including free parking in the St. John Street Garage adjacent to the Montgomery Building (140 spaces for 10 years), $750,000 in public monies to be used to develop a pedestrian plaza that will connect the Montgomery Building and the parking garage, development rights on a small adjacent city-owned parcel, and property tax abatement.
“We believe this project is a home run in many, many ways,” said Assistant City Manager Chris Story.
Indeed, the development agreement and impending renovation of the Montgomery Building not only saves one of the last great historic high-rise office buildings in the state from the wrecking ball, it should serve as a significant catalytic project in the heart of downtown Spartanburg. Situated strategically at the corner of East St. John and North Church streets, the Montgomery Building sits between the beehive of activity found on and around Morgan Square and the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, USC Upstate business school, and the Chapman Cultural Center.
When it was built in the early 1920s, it was perhaps the most prestigious business address in Upstate South Carolina. The Montgomery Building — designed by Lockwood Greene and named for one of the foundational families of the local textile industry — was for decades the epicenter of the downtown Spartanburg business world, until a combination of factors led to it falling into disrepair, out of favor and ultimately out of use during the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s.
A number of potential renovation proposals have fallen through over the past decade, each one’s failure to move forward raising the community’s collective anxiety level about the historic building’s potential to avoid the wrecking ball. Now, the community can look forward to watching a renovation project unlike any in the city’s history, as the façade of the 10-story building is removed and then new exterior panels recreated to the exact historic designs of the original are reinstalled one by one.
Work is expected to begin in earnest in January 2017 and take about 20 months to complete. For more information on the developer and his vision for the building, visit www.themontgomerybuilding.com.
For more from Monday's City Council meeting, see the full video and roundup of our live tweets below.