We are excited to announce the completion of the Comprehensive Plan Analysis Review by TATT intern Kyle Dool. Kyle is a graduate student in the City and Regional Planning program at Clemson University. This presentation is the results of an effort between Ten at the Top, Upstate planners, and Clemson University to uncover trends and evaluate opportunities for development collaboration across the Upstate region. The basis of the project is the analysis of comprehensive plans from the 10 Upstate counties and the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg, which allowed us to identify key planning themes for each county and the two largest cities in the region.
The comprehensive plan analysis review identifies common themes and key takeaways among the plans of the Upstate.
Q: Future Land Use maps – What were some of the challenges in normalizing the ten-county region, considering each jurisdiction utilize their own terms?
A: (From Katherine Amidon, Synterra Corporation, who helped with the GIS mapping for the project): Definitely some assumptions had to be made. Once we have Pickens and Spartanburg we will provide context for how we got there. We tried to mimic the 2015 effort as best as possible. Without context for how the previous class performed this analysis we had to make some guesses.
Q: What are some weaknesses that the Upstate can focus on in the next few years?
A: Only the Union county plan talked about the connection between internet access, economic development and community prosperity. We know it is an issue in all counties, but it is something that wasn’t mentioned as much as might have been expected.
Q: Was the growth pattern representative of those reflected in individual comprehensive plans?
A: Yes, most growth is focused along existing transportation networks, and there is much emphasis on bolstering the relationship between land use and transportation.
Q: Is there opportunity moving forward for the Upstate Professional Planners to discuss how they can collaborate to turn some of the plan elements into actual policies within Upstate counties to ensure the plans are followed?
A: Yes, there are many commonalities that could bring inspiration between counties, and a lot of opportunity for planners to collaborate. Cities and counties are interconnected geographically also (eg. Clemson professors live all over the Upstate).
Q: You mentioned some plans discussed alternative funding options for transportation. Did most ideas include Sales Tax? Or were there other ideas we should be exploring?
A: Sales tax and exactions with some discussion of federal funding.
Thank you to:
Phil Lindler & Michael Forman, co-chairs of the Upstate Professional Planners Group
Q: Have you begun to see positive community indicators as a result of this project in terms of employment, education, health, or income?
A: Absolutely, through job referral program, construction pipeline, working with Access Health, just received community health assessment, moving in a positive direction.
Q: Great project! Curious how much public money has gone into these efforts (City funds, HUD funds, etc) and how much private investment that has leveraged?
A: About $25M in private funds invested, leveraging $125 total investment. Successful in getting three new markets tax credits and three low-income housing projects. Strong partnership with the City of Spartanburg and sources such as neighborhood initiation program, acquired and demolished property through that program. A few years ago, Ben Carson from HUD and Senator Tim Scott visited and said this is the largest project with public and private partnerships, which will be wave of the future.
Q: Has the county been involved?
A: The study area is within city limits, but adjacent to the county line. County has been supportive with logistics, supporting programs. Many great partners throughout both.
Q: Love it! Are their plans for a hotel/convention space?
Many hotels downtown nearby to come, and possibly adjacent in county. Focus is on residential and building up community.
Storytelling at the Artlets to engage larger Spartanburg community starting with the gateway art project. Festival in September.
Q: Do you find that some of the residents would want (& benefit from) other multi-modal routes for getting to work and other destinations? If yes, what would they be?
A: Spartanburg has a new scooter program, there are bike rentals, and the neighborhood will connect to local trails. There is a bus route within the neighborhood, and yes, the plan is to increase mobility.
Q: Do you know the percentage of seniors in the Northside Community and do you have programs/development specific to senior needs?
A: 37-40%, and seniors supported with case management, homeowner assistance program, vaccine clinic, hiring a community health worker this year through a Duke Endowment grant.
Q: Where do you see NDG in ten years?
A: About five years of heavy redevelopment activity remaining, will shift to supportive entity providing services and community assistance, and provide oversight in potential community development.
Q: What role do the Northside Voyagers play in the community?
A: The project from inception was about finding out what the community wanted and needed, so building trust was first. No decisions are made without public workshops and Voyager involvement. There are 18 Voyagers, starting from 10 with the leadership of Stan Davis initially. Longevity and sustainability are key, and leadership development is provided. The transformation plan matches what has actually happened.
Q: How have you avoided gentrification?
A: This is an intentional process with projects including bringing back displaced persons to housing, programs for home buyers, down payment assistance, and bringing awareness of these programs to the community.
Q: Has the high cost of construction materials affected maintaining affordability goals?
A: Yes, but some materials were previously sourced. It is difficult to build a house for under $150K. Workshop tomorrow with Voyagers about this. Current low interest rates help. NDG working with partners with similar missions to ensure long term affordability.
Q: Are there conversations being had to bring concept out to other neighborhoods, such as Highlands.
A: In conversations with Highlands about assisting with their transformation plan. Tony has also worked with Southside and will work with others requesting assistance.
Just us for our TATT Chat on Thursday and see https://www.tenatthetop.org/events/ for additional events. Look for May date for the Upstate Comprehensive Plan Review presentation.