WHAT HAPPENED TO MAULDIN’S CITY CENTER?
Last December, Contour Development had been on the verge of signing a contract with Mauldin to develop the Mauldin City Center. But as you have probably heard, that fell through. Apparently, Contour Development ultimately could not make it work; their plans fell apart. They walked away from the deal.
Is that the End of the Mauldin City Center?
The Mauldin City Center is definitely going to be built. Other developers are still interested in the project. They had been working with the City prior to Contour’s bid, and each sees the changed situation as an opportunity to put together an improved proposal for a new bid. New developers who did not bid in 2019 will be making their own plan proposals.
All would-be developers are working with Mauldin’s Economic Development staff to get the information that will give them the best chance to be the ones to successfully draw up plans for the City Center.
What Issues Concern Developers?
Developers for the City Center want to know what other businesses are being attracted to Mauldin. Those businesses in turn want to know what is going to happen with the City Center.
All of these businesses know they must attract shoppers from other towns as well as from Mauldin itself to succeed, so they want to know of other businesses with the same business model. And what is good for businesses is good for Mauldin: money being spent in Mauldin means more and better-paying jobs – greater prosperity and economic well-being for Mauldin residents. Money coming into Mauldin equals growth.
The other big interest – particularly for City Center developers – is the
Cultural Center and the Fitness Center.
The City Center will include “multi-use” buildings – retail stores at ground level, with offices or apartments on the upper levels. People will be attracted to living in the City Center not just by the restaurants and other benefits of living in the City Center itself, but also by the amenities nearby, within walking distance. The Cultural Center and Fitness Center are at the top of that list.
Developers are of one mind that the success of the City Center depends on those two facilities being nearby, and it makes sense. People living in apartments need places to go for activities, for entertainment, for exercise, and just places to enjoy the outdoors. The Cultural Center and the Fitness Center answer those needs. They are key to the City Center’s success.
Each Developer constructs his plans based on his evaluation of the levels of importance of the various factors involved. The City planning and development staff works with each developer, providing input about the City’s goals for the City Center, to help them in developing their proposed plan.
No developer has all the expertise needed for a project of this size. Each bidding developer will build a team for the project, consisting of several companies, each with a specific area of expertise – planners, builders, financiers, attorneys, and more. Each company on the team necessarily must assess the risks and the likelihood of success. The project must not only be profitable for each member company on the developer’s team, but must also be successful enough that each participating company’s reputation is maintained and enhanced, to open up future opportunities.
The Economic Environment – Other Stores and Businesses
Every business that comes to Mauldin asks the same questions: Who will be my neighbors? What stores and businesses will be near mine?
Businesses are beginning to notice Mauldin. Believe it or not, when Starbucks opened in Mauldin, a great many businesses who had not previously considered Mauldin took notice. They saw that as part of a desirable trend, which they decided to join. Sometimes it sounds like everyone wants to have their business in Mauldin – they just do not want to be the first ones. They can see the potential; they just want to see a little more actual results.
Those potential business owners ask, “Who will be building the City Center, and when?”
Meanwhile, would-be Developers of the City Center ask, “Who will be developing stores and businesses on the streets surrounding the City Center, and when?”
Each business and each Developer wants to know what the environment will look like – just like you do when choosing the neighborhood in which you would like to buy a house. “What are the neighbors like?”
And yet, each business knows it is crucial to their success that all discussions and negotiations be kept private; “Loose lips sink ships.” At the same time, it is crucial for them to know who their neighbors will be. A big part of the role of the City’s Economic Development team is to provide helpful answers to would-be businesses, without disclosing details which would damage the plans of another business .
The Mauldin City Center Will Be Built
Mauldin is attracting the attention of developers – not just for the City Center, but elsewhere nearby. A developer will wait years, if necessary, for what he considers “the right time” – that is, the right economic environment, the right level of a specific population group, the right number of visitors to Mauldin, the right financial situation, etc.
Developers like these build establishments that require good answers to all these issues. They need an environment containing multiple businesses with a similar business model for theirs to be successful.
Each developer watches other businesses that come to Mauldin. What kinds of businesses? He is looking for other businesses and stores which will attract people who will also come to his business, and vice versa. The apartments in the City Center will attract people he will depend on. But he also expects to draw people from outside of Mauldin to work and shop in Mauldin as well.
The more you see the growth of businesses in Mauldin which attract people from elsewhere to Mauldin, the closer the City Center is to becoming a reality.■