The highest offer for the 10-acre site located at the intersection of Wade Hampton Blvd. and Memorial Dr. was $3,010,000 submitted by 313 Memorial Drive, LLC, making Greer businessman Jim Benson the new owner of the property. Greer City Council accepted the offer, the highest it received, at its Jan. 24 meeting and passed second reading of the ordinance to sell the property.
The sale closed Friday morning.
“This is a tremendous win for the City of Greer and its citizens,” Mayor Rick Danner said. “We said after accepting the property that the city’s goal was to put the property back on the tax rolls and to create jobs. That remained our focus throughout the process and I definitely think it was worth the wait to watch those goals become realities.”
Danner added that the privilege of revealing plans for the property, which includes site development and job creation, belongs to the buyer. Greer attorney Brian Martin, who represented Benson during the negotiations, said he looks forward to sharing the development plans soon.
“We are definitely thrilled with Council’s passage of Ordinance 34-2016 and Council’s decision to sell the property to 313 Memorial Drive, LLC. Mr. Benson has been a tremendous part of the growth and development of the Greer Community for decades and looks forward to continuing those efforts with the redevelopment of the former Allen Bennett Hospital site,” Martin said. “I can say that (the redevelopment project) will be a terrific step forward in the growth of the Wade Hampton corridor and will have substantial job creation for our community.”
The City of Greer has invested approximately $1 million in the project since 2010, including $800,000 to raze existing structures and clear the land, providing the municipality with approximately $2 million in net profit. Greer City Council has made a commitment to using a portion of the profits to completely rebuild the Kids Planet Playground at Century Park.
Greenville Hospital System gifted the 10-acre site to the city in 2010 after moving its operations to the new Greer Memorial Hospital campus on S. Buncombe Rd. The gifted property was anchored by the 168,000-square-foot former Allen Bennett Memorial Hospital building and included the 44,000-square-foot former Roger Huntington Nursing Center.
“The City conducted a feasibility study and reviewed all possible uses for the campus – from a VA hospital to an assisted living center and really any purpose those existing structures could be used for. We did our due diligence,” Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers said. “Based on the feasibility study, we decided to take down the buildings and clear the site in 2016 to improve the property’s marketability.”
The City of Greer, through the Greer Development Corporation, requested proposals last fall to acquire and develop the site and received no inquiries by the Oct. 4 deadline.
The city remains in a lawsuit alleging unfair and secret negotiations brought by JBM Leasing, LLC., which submitted a verbal offer of $3,005,000 at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting only to withdraw it. Attorney Kris Cato stated at the Jan. 24 meeting that JBM “reiterates its November 23 offer of $2.2 million.”
“The lawsuit alleges that something inappropriate happened and there’s absolutely no basis for that whatsoever,” Driggers said. “The city transacts its business with transparency and believes it is important to honor business agreements that have been made in good faith. City Council accepted the highest offer – one that fulfills the goals we set for the property in the best interest of the City of Greer and its citizens. It develops and improves the site, creates jobs and generates taxes.”