Greenville, South Carolina

South Carolina | 2003 Great American Main Street Award® Winner | Posted: 5/19/2003

Once the retail center of the region, Greenville's downtown began to languish in the 1960s as shopping centers lured the retailers and customers to the suburbs. It was a dying downtown in the midst of a growing region. To meet the challenge, the City of Greenville set out to re-create a business environment and atmosphere conducive for supporting businesses, residential areas, and the arts.

It initially focused on improving its image through streetscape and traffic improvements, including narrowing main street from four lanes to two lanes; installing free, angled parking, trees, and light fixtures; and creating parks and plazas throughout downtown.

In the 1980s, Greenville turned to laying the foundation for their downtown vision and providing an example of business potential to encourage business re-location to downtown (Greenville Commons/Hyatt Regency). The city worked with consultants to develop and implement a downtown master plan and facilitated public-private investment partnerships which resulted in the city's first luxury convention hotel on main street

Through the 1990s Greenville continued to strengthen their public/private partnerships to created strong anchors throughout downtown. They redeveloped a languishing industrial area into an arts complex that incorporated historically significant buildings. They stabilized a stagnant historic district with a mixed-use project of shops, restaurants, and offices, which in turn encouraged residential use of vacant upper stories and former church classrooms.

Greenville's vision thirty years ago came to fruition in the form of a vibrant commercial district, offering residents and visitors ample green space, shopping and arts activities.

The National Trust Main Street Center awarded Greenville a 2003 Great American Main Street Award on May 19, 2003, during the National Trust's annual Town Meeting on Main Street conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio.

To learn more about the National Trust's Great American Main Street Awards, contact Camille Inez at (202) 588-6140 or read the About the Awards section. For more information about Greenville's efforts to revitalize their historic commercial district, contact the City of Greenville at (864) 467-4402 or visit