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The Riverwalk Vision with David Williams of GRH Development Resources
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The Riverwalk Vision with David Williams of GRH Development Resources

The Riverwalk Vision with David Williams of GRH Development Resources

Submitted by: David Rushing

Who you missed: David Williams, Managing Director of GRH Development Resources. David is a 25-year real estate and construction professional who oversees all aspects of the company’s development and construction projects. Dave has completed over $300,000,000 in residential, mixed-use, industrial and office projects throughout the Midwest, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina. Additionally, he is responsible for managing community relations, permitting and design, and overseeing the company’s project managers. He is also active in business development, property management, working with various agencies to attract additional users to the Riverwalk development, and shared responsibilities for financial institution relationships.

David holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Miami University and a M.S. in Environmental Science & Engineering from Ohio University.

What you missed: "Creating a Vibrant Development Through A Public Private Partnership" was an overview of the Riverwalk development located near the I-77 corridor at the N. Cherry Road interchange on the Catawba River in Rock Hill, SC. David told us about the entire project from start to finish. The property was previously owned by Celanese Corporation of America and operated as a cellulose acetate plant until 2005. In addition to cellulose acetate (a synthetic fiber widely used in the textile industry), Celanese also manufactured bulk chemicals including methanol and formaldehyde, and used large amounts of acetone and benzene to reuse the acetic acid used in the manufacturing process. The facility was self-sufficient and included a power plant, water filtration plant, raw water intake, wastewater treatment plant and landfills, and, at one point, the 2.5 million square-foot facility employed over 2,500 employees. The project included the search and closing on the property(1000 acres zoned for industrial), 2-year demolition and remediation, rezoning, a private/public partnership (detailing scope scale, cost & density needs), filtering through site environmental and physical restraints, utility needs, traffic and access, market studies and a charrette (an intense period of designing or planning) with local politicians, companies and citizens. Riverwalk is now home to several subdivisions with homes by residential developers including Saussy Burbank, Evans Coghill, and Chesmar Homes. Also in development are 300 high-end apartments along the Catawba River. The Giordana Velodrome which hosted the 2012 US Cycling Championships and a BMX Supercross Track are on the property. A YMCA is being constructed to overlook the Giordana Velodrome. In addition, ground breakings are planned for a 1,000,000 square-foot distribution center and a 100,000 square-foot facility providing 360 high-paying jobs. An events center provides wedding receptions and other communal events along the Catawba River and the Riverwalk Trail, a 2.5-mile corridor along the Catawba River, provides hiking and biking opportunities for residents and connects to numerous mountain bike trails within the development. The former TSD post closure units are being developed into baseball and soccer fields that adjoin the residential developments.

Why: The overall goal of the project was to transform a former industrial complex and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Treatment, Storage, and Disposal (TSD) facility into a new mixed use, residential, commercial, and industrial complex. The new Riverwalk development would help catalyze economic redevelopment opportunities in the entire region, while incorporating the natural beauty and surroundings of the adjoining Catawba River. Furthermore, each project stakeholder had individual goals within that overarching goal:

  • Private goals were to address an estimated $45,000,000 environmental legacy and develop a community distinguished by over three miles of river waterfront and a planned mixed use development consisting of authentic housing, shopping, entertainment, office, and schools.

  • Public goals for City of Rock Hill were to cause redevelopment of the former industrial site, replacing the loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs and loss of tax base; and

  • Public goals for the State of South Carolina regulatory agency and U.S. EPA, to successfully support the redevelopment by providing a cooperative and open dialogue to address the environmental legacy economically and quickly, in order to support the successful (job creation, economic activity and taxes) and protective (mitigation of human health and environmental risks) redevelopment of the site.

How: The project was funded without access to commercial financing and had to rely solely on investor equity, salvage recovery, tax incremental financing, and by the use of bond generated funds to install the infrastructure. These funds were needed to cover the $9,000,000 demolition, $3,000,000 remediation, and $50,000,000 infrastructure costs.

Securing the necessary financing for the project required over two years of creative planning, as well as extensive negotiations with multiple local and state entities.

For more information please visit: where excerpts of this summary were used.