A decade before the first incarnation of Uptown Greenville, called Evergreen of Greenville, Evans Street between 4th and 5th Streets was bricked in. Greenville wasn’t alone–there was a considerable pedestrian mall movement going on in American downtowns from the 1960s-1980s. Like Greenville, many other cities realized they had not done themselves any favors.
In 1998, Uptown Greenville was a key partner in raising the $300,000 necessary to open Evans Street up to automobiles again–the step necessary, however counter-intuitive, to return foot traffic to the district. Uptown’s efforts to continue increasing success for businesses in the city’s center has not let up since–businesses are opening and growing in an area blighted not so long ago.
Known back then as Evergreen of Greenville, it slipped into dormancy shortly after its creation. Mayor Nancy Jenkins, in 1994, revived the sleeping organization with a new name–Uptown Greenville. After its rebirth, Uptown Greenville has been steadily working toward center-city revitalization.
Friends of and benefactors to Uptown Greenville, whether individuals, businesses or organizations know that the way a city looks and what it offers the people who live there and the businesses that open there doesn’t just happen by itself–at least not if it looks good and offers a lot. They also know that Uptown Greenville is the organization involved at the ground on decisions regarding the heart of the city, things like parking, security, sanitation, landscaping and beautification. (To see why the center of the city is vital to a vibrant, engaged marketplace of ideas and goods, and to get a sense of what we’re preserving in our efforts, read the [history of Greenville].)
In addition to transformation projects like the Evans Street project, Uptown Greenville is also involved in long-term, recurring programs to improve the city’s downtown. In 1995, Uptown launched a matching grant for people renovating properties in the district. This Facade Improvement Grant has ensured numerous properties spots on National Register of Historic Places and has enabled projects to qualify for substantial federal and state rehabilitation tax credits.
One of the things Uptown Greenville is known best for is the pre-home game celebrations for East Carolina University’s football team. Freeboot Friday, begun in 2000, quickly became a Fall community tradition. Drawing an average of 2,800 people to the heart of the city, Freeboot Fridays is festive with live music, inflatable Pirate Ships for the kids, local brewery beer flowing and food sampling from local restaurants. Other recurring events are the the Uptown Umbrella Market bringing farmers, artists, artisans and educators out on Wednesdays through the summer; the ArtWalk, a first Friday open-gallery night when art galleries serve light refreshments and encourage community appreciation of creative endeavors; and PirateFest, a yearly street summer festival drawing in more than __ people.
Support from the community through member dues help us do all of this and more.
If you want more information on Uptown Greenville, visit uptowngreenville.com or call (252) 561-8400.