As historic textile mill district comes back to life in Greenville, South Carolina, locals hope for revitalization without displacement

A new collaborative space in Greenville, South Carolina‘s historic Judson Mill District, called the Jud Hub, opened recently.

It shines new light on both the positive, revitalizing impact of the mill repurposing project, and potential downside.

In a FOX Carolina report by Kennedi Harris, Judson Mill Development partner Matt Springer said that over 40 percent of the residents in the old mill neighborhood still live in poverty.

He sees Judson Mill as a way to bring people into the revitalized space with workforce housing units, a small grocer, meeting spaces for nonprofits and other organizations and soon retail and dining options.

Ken Kolb, chair and professor of the sociology department at Furman University, sees it another way.

A lead investigator for the study, “Racial Displacement in Greenville, SC,” Kolb said the downturn in the textile market decades ago lowered property values and made way for Black families to move in.

Now, with revitalization efforts, the property values are going up, putting Black families at risk of losing their homes.

All these things [improvements] are great, but we also need to recognize that as we revitalize the mills, we’re going to make them attractive places to live, work and play,” Kolb said.

The most efficient way to increase new housing is to take advantage of the easiest opportunities, but we just have to be mindful of who it is we want to benefit from this type of revitalization,” he added.

Of course, hoping for revitalization without significant displacement isn’t enough: there are specific ways to accomplish this, as documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity.

Fun fact: Judson Mill, originally known as Westervelt Mill, got its name from Furman professor Charles Judson.

Charles Judson was the second professor hired by Furman’s trustees when the school moved from Winnsboro to Greenville in 1851.

His sister, Mary Judson, helped him run the Greenville Woman’s College.

Image of Judson Mill loft apartments courtesy of Judson Mill Development.

This article by Tina Underwood originally appeared on the Furman University website.
Reprinted here (with edits and addition) by permission.

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