By Molly Hulsey
Hughes Investment and the city of Mauldin may have broken ground today on Phil Hughes’ vision for an expansive European-style village a leap away from Interstate 385 and the Swamp Rabbit Trail, but they have been laying the groundwork for the development, both literally and figuratively, for years.
The sewer infrastructure is in. The water lines have been linked. Now, Hughes said, is the time to build up.
“Charleston is living among its history,” Hughes said. “The Upstate is making its history.”
He recalled purchasing the first 50-acre piece of property at the future home of Bridgeway Station on March 3, 38 years ago. Since then he has acquired about 170 acres in the area.
Hughes plans on investing around $100 million in the development, which borders 3,000 feet along Interstate 385.
“And thank goodness for bad news — sometimes,” he said, regarding his foiled strategy for an industrial park at the location decades ago.
Now Hughes, flanked by Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt and others, unveiled grander plans: the 40-acre vision of a European-style plaza complete with restaurants, retail, residential and office space.
Graham quipped that in a few years, when visitors ask where Greenville is, Upstate residents will answer “near Mauldin.”
According to Hughes’ original plan for the property, Harper Construction will build close to 1 million square feet of real estate.
“It’s a developer’s dream,” he said. “The cooperation by every level of government is unbelievable. It is a partnership to this day.”
His goal with the property, through the help of architects McMillan Pazdan Smith, is elevation of beauty in community architecture.
“We decided to focus on the beauty,” he said. “It’s been a lost factor of modern development. One of the most beautiful places in the world, a lot of people say, that you can go is a small Italian village.”
In about 18 months, he said, McMillan Pazdan Smith and Harper Construction will recreate the aesthetic and community of this village, complete with modern amenities, near the heart of Mauldin.
“It is a new town center. It’s an entire town,” he said. “It’s residential, it’s retail, it’s restaurants, it’s entertainment, it’s institutional, it’s outdoor events … what happens outside the building is probably more important than what happens inside the building.”
U.S. Rep. William Timmons resonated with Hughes’ take on the long-term investment with Bridgeway Station, as he himself waited for his holding in what will soon become Unity Park in downtown Greenville to mature.
“A lot of people did not believe it was a good decision,” he said. “Phil was there to give me guidance and help me understand the challenges and opportunities I was facing. I thought that it took forever with my development, and it only took 10 years. This is a 38-year development in the making, and that’s truly incredible. It’s a testament to the Upstate. It’s a testament to the importance of this project, and I am so excited to see it come to fruition. Good things come to those who wait.”
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