Greenville, SC Comprehensive Plan

Greenville, SC

how does A revitalized greenville manage its hard-won success and invest wisely for a new era?


When Greenville hired czb, and our partner Ingalls Planning & Design, to work on its new comprehensive plan, the community was facing a serious dilemma. Previous work to create a world-class downtown and riverfront had been wildly successful, and Greenville was becoming known for its exceptional quality of life. This contributed to rapid growth in jobs and population, which was causing more and more land to be consumed, housing prices to rise, and traffic to worsen. All of this made people wonder: “Would Greenville become a victim of its own success?”

During 2019 and 2020, we designed and facilitated a process to directly address this dilemma and deliver a comprehensive plan to guide routine decision-making. The community quickly coalesced around open space, affordable housing, and mobility as key priorities. Through a careful process of scenario development and cost/benefit analysis, those priorities were translated into specific outcomes that would require a change in how and where Greenville was growing.

Getting a handle on important trends

Greenville is the economic and cultural heart of Upstate South Carolina. The city has had great success in adding jobs and residents in the 21st century, but by 2020, the stresses on infrastructure, housing costs, and open space were undebatable. Quantifying the nature of the growing pains was key to devising a new path forward. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring of 2020 was a curveball that forced the process to consider whether recent trends were about to change dramatically.

Robust Steering Committee and Public Engagement Process

The project's steering committee had over forty members, and we put them to work over an eighteen-month process in which they had to take on the big questions facing Greenville. Committee meetings were hours-long working sessions with interactive exercises and difficult choices.

The work of steering committee members was supplemented by regular online surveys and multiple open house events with the broader community to share the committee's work and gather input and feedback on critical decision points.

Testing Scenarios with the Community

Three scenarios were developed to help the community choose between alternative paths to 2040.

The assumptions behind all three scenarios were modeled to project how each path might affect population growth and key metrics around housing, transportation, and open space.

The results were evaluated by the GVL2040 steering committee and the public, a preferred scenario was selected, and the attributes of the preferred scenario formed the foundation of the plan's direction.

Communicating Trade-offs and Impacts

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"czb provided the out-of-box process and thinking that staff and the Steering Committee were ultimately yearning for in this process, regardless of unforeseen challenging circumstances."

- Courtney Powell | Senior Planner

GVL2040 Documents

GVL2040 was unanimously adopted by Greenville's City Council in February 2021. Read the full plan or the executive summary.