One of the uniquely fun things about being a young professional in the city where you grew up is the opportunity to show friends who have moved away the changes in your city when they return to visit.
Sarah gets this opportunity pretty frequently with friends coming to town every few months or so for a holiday or a wedding. They almost always want to do something “new and fun downtown”. When you hear that, it’s very easy to assume this means that they want to experience the newest place on Main Street, while still remembering the charm of their hometown (read: walkable to Falls Park).
But this article from Addie Hampton at WSPA got the Complete PR team thinking because it used a word we had never thought of to describe the development of Greenville – boroughs. Those quirky little neighborhoods that develop around where people live, work and play within the boundaries of a larger city. And while we’ve never intentionally experienced Greenville in this way, we realized that we certainly experience other cities by boroughs. When Sarah make a weekend trip to Atlanta, she may spend one weekend in Midtown, the next in Virginia Highlands, and the next in Decatur. Each brings its own unique blend of people and culture to the city, but you’re never left feeling as though you didn’t see “true Atlanta” just because you didn’t see Turner Field. Who’s to say visitors won’t feel the same way about skipping out on Falls Park?
One of the things we love about the borough concept is how organic they are. Restaurants and stores pop up to reflect the interests and tastes of the residents, not the aesthetic of a main street. We’ve written about this concept in a previous Flash – part of what makes Greenville, or any city, unique, is the fact that it is developed out of the character of the locals. When you start to take the places filled with that character and replace them with shiny new restaurant concepts from other cities, you lose some of your charm and begin to look a little more generic.
That’s where the boroughs concept is critical to the continued growth of Greenville. It’s wonderful that we have a well-manicured downtown that adheres to design guidelines. It’s great that restaurant groups from other cities want to expand their businesses here and we are big fans of what they are doing – not knocking anyone here. But it’s also important to nourish what makes Greenville Greenville, whether that’s a bustling arts district celebrating our homegrown makers, or a walkable North Main neighborhood that has great outdoor patios big enough for our city’s many young families.
So this is our challenge to you, Greenville. Reserve those Main Street blinders for the horse and carriage. Next time you have guests in town, try a different itinerary: Spend a Friday night in the Village, instead of NoMa Square. Spend Saturday walking to brews on a patio at Community Tap, and Sunday hopping on the Swamp Rabbit Trail for pizza at Sidewall. Trip to Falls Park not included.