RealOp Investments, a Greenville-based commercial real estate investment group, has purchased four vacant buildings on Markley Street and plans to renovate and preserve the former warehouse property in the city’s historic West End. RealOp officials said the urban revitalization project, called Markley Station, continues the neighborhood’s ongoing development and momentum. It will blend historic buildings with timeless finishes to house a mix of offices, retail and restaurants, the officials said.
RealOp also purchased property across the street that the company intends to convert into parking. Terms of the acquisitions weren’t disclosed. The project won’t include any new buildings or a residential component.
Neither Paul Sparks, RealOp’s managing principal and president, nor Ralph Settle, director of development, would disclose the size of the company’s investment.
But Sparks said it would amount to a “mid- to high-seven figures number.”
The majority of the work will be exterior renovation of the existing buildings, including new storefront windows, restoring masonry openings and adding new openings for doors, according to filings with the city’s Design Review Board and confirmed by Sparks and Settle.
Work also will include new canopies over designated entrances, new metal railings to meet building code requirements, cleaning the brick facades, a new roof and exterior lighting.
There will be a new center plaza with raised benches and landscape improvements.
City officials reviewed and approved the exterior work. The interior build-out doesn’t need such approval.
“From our perspective, it was important to maintain the bones of the development as far as it relates to the buildings, the aesthetics,” Sparks said. “It’s consistent with what we’ve seen with older historical buildings in the downtown area. What we want to do is continue that tradition of community-conscious developers maintaining that integrity.”
With the C-4 zoning designation, the company isn’t required to provide parking. But it will to enhance the project’s marketability and address neighborhood concerns about available parking in the area, Sparks and Settle said.
The site will have about 80 parking spaces, or 2.2 per thousand square feet, Settle said.
“The center of the world”
Historically, the Markley Station property was used for dry storage.
In its early days, Markley Street in downtown Greenville was in the business hub of the Upstate. A train would pull in with raw materials, like cotton and lumber, and pull out with finished goods to ship around the world.
It was where people met, deals were made and commerce was conducted.
The RealOp project will house seven suites in about 43,000 square feet. About half is under signed letters of intent from three tenants, who are in the lease-negotiation state, Settle said.
RealOp is relocating its corporate headquarters to Rhett Street in the West End, “and this project is just going to be what we think is the center of the world over there,” Settle said.
The area’s transition includes millennials and entrepreneurs who are reshaping the housing and office environments with how they live and work, Sparks said.
Other developments in the vicinity include multifamily projects planned for three acres on South Main Street at Pendleton Street Baptist Church and near the Kroc Center. A hotel also is planned nearby. With those becoming reality, it “further edified what we thought and we envisioned for that area,” Settle said.
“This is signature property, a signature development for RealOp Investments,” Sparks said. “We know that, and we know a lot of people are going to be watching to ensure that we could maintain the integrity of the project. And we’re going to do that.”
The project team consists of RealOp Investments, the developer; NAI Earle Furman, leasing; Harper Corporation, general contractor; and McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture.
“We think the West End is going to continue to grow,” Sparks said. “It’s going to continue to grow at a much faster pace than anywhere in our opinion. We love that aspect of it. We just want to be part of it.”
116 N. Markley Street