Designated Intersect East, the property covers 19 acres between main campus and the Dickinson Avenue corridor, including the historic Export Leaf Tobacco building, the American Tobacco Company storage warehouse No. 2 and the Prichard-Hughes Warehouse.
The eight-year master plan includes the development or repurposing of 14 buildings and an investment of more than $150 million. The completed project is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs with a financial impact exceeding $141 million annually with $3 million in annual tax revenues.
Highlights of the plan include:
- A new, high-tech research and innovation hub with an iconic water feature adjacent to the 10th Street connector;
- A renovated Export Leaf Tobacco factory building that will keep intact the district’s historic water tower and factory smokestack;
- The reclamation of an abandoned railroad track that connects Dickinson Avenue to campus that will be converted into a hiking-biking trail;
- A biopark at the heart of the Intersect East campus; and
- The development of residential, office and parking space for professional level students and young professionals.
“(Intersect East) is a place where business and science will merge,” said Tim Elliott, managing member at Elliott Sidewalk Communities. “(A place) where innovation will flourish … you could say this is an Olympic training center for business growth where university research and corporate research and development meet, train and win.”
Elliott Sidewalk Communities said the development would be recognized as a “pacesetter urban hub” — the first of its kind in the nation — that blends businesses, downtown culture and academic research.
The entire reason for this project is to have businesses leverage the great research capabilities of the university so that together the university and the business can elevate themselves together and, at the same time, bring jobs to downtown Greenville. It’s our job to awaken these buildings to be the first catalyst to bring jobs to the core of Greenville
Phase One of the project focuses on Intersect East’s three historic properties. The three buildings, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be renovated and open for business tenants looking to collaborate with the university. The renovation will include 200,000 square feet of office space with an initial investment of $30 million. Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2021, with completion by fall 2022.
Elliott Sidewalk Communities and the university are initially targeting tenants in the industrial sectors of engineering, biotechnology and pharmacology. The partners will work together to bring business clients to Intersect East that align with the university’s mission.
“The entire reason for this project is to have businesses leverage the great research capabilities of the university so that together the university and the business can elevate themselves together and, at the same time, bring jobs to downtown Greenville,” Elliott said. “It’s our job to awaken these buildings to be the first catalyst to bring jobs to the core of Greenville.”
In total, the project will include four phases with an expected completion date of 2027. The development will include mixed-use space, including apartments, townhomes and restaurant space.
The development deal between ECU and Elliott Sidewalk Communities was approved by the UNC Board of Governors in July as a public-private partnership. Public-private partnerships are collaborations between public entities, like universities, and private companies. Private companies invest in public projects for a return while shielding public entities from risk.
Elliott Sidewalk Communities previously developed The Lofts at Dickinson in Greenville with partner Hallmark Campus Communities. The company has also partnered with the city of High Point and the city of Rock Hill, South Carolina for projects related to universities in those cities.
As part of the deal, Elliott Sidewalk Communities reached an agreement with ECU and the UNC System to control the property for 99 years. Elliott Sidewalk Communities will pay the appraised value of the buildings over the life of the deed.
Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said the trust ECU has built with Elliott Sidewalk Communities played a pivotal role in the formation of the partnership.
“We had an asset, a great location of tremendous value,” Mitchelson said. “We had something to provide, but we’re not professional developers. With (Elliott Sidewalk Communities’ assistance), we really do know what to do with it now. This is a great example of the symbolic transformation of our economy in the east.”
Millennial campuses are geographic areas where academic institutions join with education, industry, government, community and military partners to support public-private ventures. Traditionally, publicly supported academic institutions have less regulatory flexibility to collaborate in business ventures, but millennial campus designations provide leeway in how ECU collaborates with its industry partners.
ECU was the eighth UNC System institution to receive a millennial campus designation.
The Intersect East project is one of many that have helped bridge ECU and the Greenville community.
In July 2019 the university broke ground on its $90 million Life Sciences and Biotechnology Building. The building, funded by the 2016 N.C. Connect Bond, will be one of the first completed pieces of the millennial campus when it opens next fall.
The university’s Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement moved to its new location in Uptown Greenville in February 2020, serving as a connector between ECU’s main campus and health sciences campus. Additionally, the board of trustees approved a deal for the development of a university-branded hotel in close proximity to Uptown.
Learn more about the Intersect East project online.