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Aug W. Smith Building Progress January 2018 by Upstate Aerial
See Spartanburg Rise: A Revitalization Story

By: Pearson Mann, Harper General Contractors Project Engineer, Clemson University, Construction Science Management, 2018


“Old buildings keep us in touch with our past.”

–Bogue Wallin, owner of Blue Wall Real Estate


Harper Project Engineer Pearson Mann, Project Manager Neil Wilson and General Superintendent Daniel Ellison on-site at the Aug W. Smith project reviewing progress

This past summer, I had the privilege of working on the restoration of the Aug W. Smith building as an intern for Harper, the general contractor selected for the project. The Aug. W Smith building, originally constructed in 1920, is located on Main Street in downtown Spartanburg. The 91-year-old building served as a department store until 1983, when it then became Bishop’s Furniture. Its location, historic aesthetics and potential made it a desirable building for Bogue Wallin, owner of Blue Wall Real Estate, to pursue as an investment. Wallin described his draw to this building when he said, “I like interesting buildings that are well located and have problems that will scare off the average investor; it’s an opportunity for me to add value.”

As with any restoration of an old building, this project did have its challenges. However, this building has been proof of the benefits of landmark revitalization. The iconic Aug W. Smith building in the heart of Spartanburg will become a 45-unit apartment building with two ground-level retail spaces. The building will provide a significant benefit to the growth and revitalization of downtown Spartanburg.

Community Benefit

In recent decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth in downtown. Restaurants, shops, bars and unique character continue to populate this Upstate community. A significant part of this growth is due to the revitalization of landmark buildings. Not only does this revitalization allow Spartanburg to expand without losing its charm, it helps preserve its distinctive history.

Most find it hard to believe that the restoration of an old building helps promote a healthy economy and clean environment. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency states that more energy is saved by preserving energy already present in existing buildings rather than utilizing additional energy with new construction (1). For example, if there is an existing steel-framed core from a preexisting building, a steel manufacturer would not need to expend energy on the process of making steel for a new building. In turn, this energy can be used elsewhere for the betterment of another project.

In addition to the promotion of a healthier economy and cleaner environment, the revitalization of old buildings encourages continual growth in already developed areas. The reuse of older buildings can actually increase property values by restoring properties to productive use (2). According to Bogue Wallin, the primary advantage of an old building is that “you have a building in a location that is hard to duplicate.” This concept remains true for the development of the Aug W. Smith building, which brings added value to downtown Spartanburg and encourage continual development in the area.

To keep up with the progress of this redevelopment, click here or search #seespartanburgrise.




Pearson Mann

About the Author:

Pearson Mann started with Harper as an intern last summer with Clemson University’s Construction Science and Management program. He will graduate from Clemson in May and now has joined Harper’s team as a full-time Project Engineer. May will be a great month for him as he won’t only be celebrating a start in his graduation but he will also be getting married!


(Left to Right) Bryan Kutcher, Kyle Putnam, Ralph Settle, and Robert Benedict concluding the tour. Robert Benedict and the Clemson grad students gift Clemson Real Estate Development ball caps and notebooks to Bryan, Kyle, and Ralph.
Clemson Grad Students Tour the Revitalization of the Historic Markley Station

Throughout the Upstate, there’s a growing market of the revitalization of historic sites. Markley Station is no exception. Located in Greenville’s historic West End, this urban street that was once a commerce hub on the railroad is now flourishing with visions of condos, retail, and office space. With Markley Station’s rustic charm, it will no doubt become the center of this vision for its tenants and visitors.

Harper General Contractors recently completed the revitalization process of Markley Station in December 2017. The developer Ralph Settle, with RealOp Investments, was very engaged with the process and attributes the brilliant re-construction to the highly qualified team on the project. Through the teams of Harper General Contractors, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, and the CBRE leasing firm, Markley Station is again able to contribute to the ongoing development and momentum in the West End.

Recently the Clemson University Real Estate Development graduate students had the pleasure of receiving an on-site tour of Markley Station lead by Ralph Settle, who himself happens to be an alumni of the program. The students are part of a two-year Masters of Real Estate Development program consisting of 40 students from all across the world. Robert Benedict, the director of this program, stated “We want our students to see developments that are going to compliment existing, surrounding areas. We want the emphasis on urban infill and mixed-use developments ⎯  that are active spaces not only for office, but dining and retail. Markley was a great fit for a program tour and it’s being developed by a former Masters Real Estate Development alumni.”

When considering the impact this development is having in Greenville he remarked, “This is a dynamic area that is taking off and it’s the type of development that they (the students) want to be involved in when they finish the program. It continues what Greenville has been, an active and walkable environment.” Ralph also vocalized that what’s unique about Markley is that it’s an existing building, whereas all around it the dirt is worth more than the buildings. Buildings on the same street are being torn down while hotels and condos are replacing these existing structures. “What is unique about Markley is it truly was warehouses on the rail line and now we are able to convert that into office space, retail, and restaurants,” contributed Ralph.

Ralph reflects that Markley Station is “a nice way to do an adaptive reuse of existing buildings. We (RealOp Investments) were able at the right time, with the appropriate basis, to save the buildings. We wish to be true to what the buildings are: nice 30s/40s/50s warehouses on the rail line, single and multi-story, with concrete floors, structural beams, and existing brick that adds to the character of what downtown Greenville calls the warehouse district. This is the reason why they call it the warehouse district ⎯  because of these very buildings.”

Currently there are two tenants, Fortis Riders and Aluma Connect. Ralph and his team are hoping the development will attract an array of tenants like restaurants, bars, brewery, retail, boutiques, or coffee shops on the lower levels to create a nightlife and to compliment with some creative office spaces on the upper levels. It’s their hope to have people who celebrate what the buildings are, with the open environment to do their work, which exemplifies the next generation of office space. The CBRE leasing team working with Markley are native to Greenville and have an invested interest in seeing this as the next hot spot in the West End of Greenville.

When it comes to the measures and precautions involved in developing a historical site such as this, Ralph believes it all depends on the team. “There’s a reason why RealOp went with Harper. They’ve done these projects successfully before. They understand these buildings and know where the potential pitfalls are, where to look, and what structural engineers to work with. From the perspective of re-developing one of these buildings, you are only successful as your team. With McMillan Pazdan Smith, Harper, Blue Water, and Britt Peters, they’ve done this before and with protecting our investment dollars it makes sense to go with a team with such expertise and that is well-known for this type of product” affirms Ralph. Ralph also reflected that he has enjoyed the Harper senior leadership taking interest in the project and that David, Harper’s President, has walked the project as well.

Harper has a reputation for effectively assessing potential reconstruction and developmental issues and making changes accordingly in order to keep budget costs down. Andy Hall, the Director of Preconstruction at Harper, was in charge of this process at the Markley project. When discussing about how this process was completed Ralph stated the following, “Andy did a great job and spent months with different various teams to analyze the building and brought in the appropriate team members at the appropriate times to let us really understand what we were getting ourselves into. He was truly a voice of reason and reality to the cost implications involved. Then the transition from Andy to Bryan was completely smooth.”

Bryan Kutcher, Harper’s Project Manager, oversaw the Markley Station project. He was recruited to this project because of his previous extensive experience with the revitalization of historic sites. When discussing the challenges associated with renovating a historical building such as Markley, he explained that “Some of the challenges we faced on doing this historic renovation were the existing wood columns and beams that needed to be replaced because they were either splitting or had damage from the previous work that had been done. There was also some termite and water damage to some of the wood causing it to have to be replaced as well. We also, in the one-story building, ran into a settling foundation that caused the foundation and some exterior brick to crack.” All of the existing issues found were efficiently reconstructed while still maintaining the original, historic appearance. Due to the expertise of the Harper team and all those involved, no further issues arose during the renovation process.

It is Harper’s vision and priority to help rebuild the communities around them. They are honored to be a part of the revitalization of Markley Station and have high expectations for what it is today and its impact it will hold for the West End community.

Renderings provided by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture

Veterans Day: Helping Our Community

This Veterans Day, a team of people came together to serve local veteran Jason Livingston. Mr. Livingston, who suffered trauma to his legs while serving in the War in Afghanistan, was awarded a Purple Heart, the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members. As a member of The Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 845 in Greenville, SC, commanded by Doug Greenlaw, Mr. Livingston has a community of people who care. Introduced to Doug Greenlaw by Doug Harper, our Equipment and Fleet Manager Sam Ligon became aware that Mr. Livingston was in need of a new driveway, his being in grave disrepair. Sam rallied a local team to gift a new driveway to Mr. Livingston in time for this year’s Veterans Day. This team consisted of Norris Supply, Greenville Tractor, United Rentals, Hanson Aggregates, Concrete Connection, Sandlapper Concrete and Steve Poole.

Thank you Sam Ligon for organizing this project and to all parties involved for gifting your time, supplies, and labor to give Mr. Livingston a new driveway!

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