This story has been updated to clarify the final number of affordable housing units in the Woven project.
Greenville Planning Commission approved the "Woven" project in West Greenville after a four-hour meeting Tuesday night, bringing the massive development one step closer to reality.
Woodfield Development, a local development company that built the .408 Jackson and The Greene apartment complexes in the West End, is seeking to annex and rezone 2.91 acres on Pendleton, Traction, Smith and Saco streets for "Woven."
The project includes two mixed-use buildings with 214 multifamily residential units, a public plaza, a community park, public parking, new sidewalks and five commercial spaces that are to be leased below market rate to provide affordable commercial opportunities for local entrepreneurs and artists.
Among the residential units, 20% would be affordable units, including eight units at 80% AMI, 26 units at 60% AMI and nine units at 40% AMI.
10% would be what's classified as workforce housing intended for people earning only up to 80% of area median income, meaning residents would need to earn roughly $50,000 or less annually to live there.
For the project to come to fruition, the Greenville Planning Commission and City Council need to sign off on the annexation and rezoning.
But developers and West Greenville residents have clashed over the future of the site, with some residents saying the development would be too large and that it would contribute to further gentrification in West Greenville.
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"The drawings don't reflect the neighborhoods around the buildings," said Cherington Love Shucker, a West Greenville resident and former executive director of Greenville Center for Creative Arts, which is headquartered in West Greenville.
The plans, she said, perpetuate exploitive development in a neighborhood that's vulnerable to gentrification.
"We have an opportunity to do things differently, and yet we continue to run over voices that don't have privilege," Shucker said.
Second rendition of "Woven" project comes with changes
Other people, like artist Danielle Fontaine, said the development meets a need for affordable space in the neighborhood and will help the area known as The Village of West Greenville adapt for the future.
"I love villages, and a village — like anything else in the world — if it doesn't adapt to changes around it, it will have trouble surviving," Fontaine said.
The Woven site presently has several homes, a former bank converted into artist studios and vacant land. The property, which is valued at $1.1 million, is surrounded by shops and restaurants in The Village commercial district and single-family homes on nearby streets.
Two historic textile mills — Brandon Mill and Woodside Mill — are nearby and have been converted into apartments.
Plans call for one of the historic mill homes on the site, the two-story Morgan House, to be preserved and moved to a different location within the development. Three more mill houses on the property would be relocated elsewhere in the Brandon Mill community.
"Woven" has garnered the endorsement of multiple business owners in The Village and 31 nearby property owners, according to documents shared with The Greenville News.
Yet the Planning Commission resoundingly recommended the project be denied at its first reading in July due to issues with mass, scale, density and setbacks, or how close a building can be to the property lines.
The project then progressed to City Council for approval, narrowly passing approval in a 4-3 vote after an hour and a half of discussion. But at City Council's second and final vote, councilmembers decided unanimously to send the project back to Planning Commission so the developer could make changes and address community concerns.
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Woodfield adjusted its plans, scaling down the project from 254 to 214 units, which lowers the project's density. The building has been reduced to four stories in the back and five fronting Pendleton Street. The color scheme of the building has been altered. It will also include more workforce housing, 43 units out of the 214.
Planning Commission approved the project with the changes Tuesday evening in a 5-1 vote. City Council will consider the matter Dec. 12.
"Woodfield is very pleased to receive this 5-1 vote in favor at the Planning Commission," developer Brian Schick told The Greenville News. "We look forward to going back to City Council for second reading and are hopeful they will appreciate the steps we've taken to address concerns of mass and density while still providing significant public benefits including affordable housing, public parking and open space."
West Greenville neighborhood in flux
Many residents who oppose the development said the project would worsen gentrification in West Greenville. The neighborhood, which declined after the fall of local textile mills, has been revitalized in recent years but has also seen a steady decline in Black residents as more affluent, white residents move into the area.
The average white household in Southernside and West Greenville earns three times more than its Black counterpart, pushing many Black residents out of the local housing market.
"That's what they need to say in order to get this built. They have to say 'we have affordable housing.' But it's not going to really provide affordable housing for the people who need it," resident Jack Olson told the Planning Commission.
Macon Atkinson is the city watchdog reporter for The Greenville News. She's powered by long runs and strong coffee. Follow her on Twitter @maconatkinson.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: West Greenville's Woven approved — with changes. Here's what to know.