The former Masonic building on the downtown Greenville square is being transformed into the Greenville University SMART Center
Work is underway to renovate the three floors of the historic building. Bruce Unterbrink Construction of Greenville is the general contractor.
A ceremony, billed as a ground breaking, was held Monday morning at the center site.
The SMART Center is an initiative to unify resources and connections of the university, community and regional businesses to cultivate economic development.
Planned on the first floor is a restaurant and community space.
Breck Nelson, SMART Center executive director, said plans for the other floors call for an entrepreneurial center, allowing students to hear from local entrepreneurs, and media center. A one-of-a-kind demonstration kitchen will be installed on the third floor.
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Linda Myette, vice-president of advancement for G.U., said the building was a gift from Greenville University alum and supporter Don Jones, who has a mission of ministry through property.
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The university has received a federal grant for the project, and Myette reported about $800,000 has been raised from individuals and businesses.
Greenville Mayor Alan Gaffner said the city is also a partner in the project. The city will invest $200,000 in the project, which comes from one of the tax increment funding districts encompassing the downtown area. $160,000 will be used to make an elevator possible. $40,000 will go toward the exterior of the building.
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The elevator will also provide access to the upper floor of Joe’s Pizza, which is adjacent to the SMART Center building.