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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Don’t be afraid to cross the street

WHAT SPARTANBURG’S NORTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS TO OFFER —

“‘But whatever you do, don’t cross North Church Street,’” quotes Curt McPhail, Northside Initiative project manager and 1996 Wofford College graduate. “They told me this 15 years ago at my orientation, and they’re still telling students the same thing today.”

Previously known for low incomes and a high crime rate, the Northside neighborhood of Spartanburg has long been considered an unwelcoming place for Wofford students. With the departure of the old Spartan Mill, the area began to decline, marked until recently by boarded up homes and broken windows.

As part of the Northside Initiative, however, things are beginning to change in the neighborhood. The Northside Development Corporation (NDC) was formed to be a nonprofit land bank, buying up properties in the Northside to make development possible. It has become the lead organization in a fundamental revitalization of the Northside neighborhood. The NDC doesn’t necessarily do things programmatically, but helps facilitate the redevelopment through partnerships and other opportunities. Conversations about Northside and its improvement began soon after the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) chose to locate a $28 million medical college at the site of the old Spartan Mill, right in the heart of Northside.

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“We’re a diverse group of people who are passionate about bringing Spartanburg’s Northside to its well-deserved potential,” says McPhail. “We do that through investing time, skills and dollars to ensure a safe, strong and thriving Northside community.”

According to McPhail, the key stakeholders in the initiative are the current residents of the neighborhood, who stand to gain the most from revitalization. Some other important players are Wofford College, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, the city of Spartanburg, the Spartanburg Housing Authority, Spartanburg County School District Seven and various local foundations.

In the beginning of the initiative, the NDC became involved with Purpose Built Communities, an organization that helps communities replicate their successful restoration of the Eastlake community in Atlanta, Ga. As the lead organization in Northside, the NDC has adapted Purpose Built’s model for redevelopment, based off of three main pillars of community, which are high quality social services and support, a cradle-to-career education pipeline and mixed income housing, the latter of which has not been done in Spartanburg before.

A lot of the planning the NDC has done recently has been to align efforts in order to be competitive for a federal grant called Choice Implementation. This federal housing and urban development grant is only awarded to four communities nationwide each year and is in the range of $20 to $30 million.

Drive down Brawley Street in the Northside; there are three duplexes under the final stages of construction.

“Our vision and this community’s vision for mixed income housing, which would include even subsidized or public housing, is very different from any model that exists in Spartanburg. We thought it was important to create some samples of what we think housing should look like in Northside,” says McPhail.

This push for mixed income housing is connected to the idea of creating a community of choice, explains McPhail.

“We’re really targeting two different groups — one made up of the folks who live here now, because we want them to choose to stick around, and two, those folks who can choose where they decide to live. We want to create a community that would be their first choice to relocate to.”

McPhail believes that getting involved and familiar with the Northside is a great thing for Wofford students.

“Ultimately we’re trying to create a place where folks won’t get told not to go across North Church Street,” says McPhail. “A simple way [to get involved] is just to shop in the Northside, come over, have lunch, come to the farmer’s market or come to events. Cleveland Academy of Leadership is also a wonderful place for Wofford students to spend time, whether they’re volunteering or just visiting.”

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