Picture a type of “downtown square” in Greenwood with one-way streets, two- or three-story office complexes or condominiums and a much more visible city park as you head downtown.
That’s possible, but Greenwood Middle School would have to be razed.
Greenwood schools wants to build a new middle school and is in discussion with Mayor Mark Myers about the city purchasing the 14-acre campus in an area bounded by Madison Avenue, Meridian Street and Smith Valley Road.
“With the location of the middle school, being where it’s at right in the heart of downtown, and with a lot of focus on the revitalization of downtown, I think this would be a perfect opportunity,” Myers said.
The downtown project hinges on school board and community approval of building a new middle school at Averitt and Stop 18 roads.
“The part that I hope seals the deal for our community is that we are working with the city to provide 14 acres in downtown Greenwood that the city can use to continue help revitalizing downtown,” Greenwood Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.
How much the property is worth and what Greenwood would spend to tear down the building and build a new street is unknown. The city would pay the school for the building and land using tax-increment financing district money because it is a revitalization project, Myers said.
In the coming weeks, the property will be appraised to determine its value and what the city can pay for it, and Myers said he will start asking the redevelopment commission and city council for support.
The mayor envisions moving Machledt Drive south to where the middle school football field is located. That would help take traffic away from Main and Meridian streets and keep the area near Mrs. Curl Ice Cream Shop, the Greenwood Public Library and the park safer for pedestrians.
Several streets downtown could become one-way to create a type of downtown square, which would help with traffic flow and not hurt businesses, he said.
Downtown Greenwood traffic is backed up when parents and buses bring students to and from school, DeKoninck said. Moving the middle school would help with traffic in the area, he said.
If the project is approved, Myers would ask developers to consider building two- or three-story office complexes or condominiums where the middle school stands now, he said.
“There’s just a myriad of possibilities that could happen that would bring business, bring people, bring foot traffic, bring a whole new face to the downtown area,” Myers said.