Walking around downtown Greer, with its classic clock tower, historic brick buildings and local shops and restaurants, it’s hard to believe this small Upstate town is home to a $10 billion automobile manufacturing plant and South Carolina’s first inland port.
The 1994 opening of BMW U.S., now a sprawling 1,150-acre facility employing 11,000 workers, was certainly a game-changer for this rural mill town that had come upon hard times with the decline of the South’s textile industry. Inland Port Greer added to the transportation commerce when it opened in 2013, bringing cargo containers from the Port of Charleston to the Upstate by way of Norfolk Southern rail line.
While BMW and the port have fueled the rapid growth of the city, Greer has purposely set about to retain its historic character.
In 1998, the city created a redevelopment plan for its national historic district, now known as Greer Station—a nod to the city’s 1873 origins as a railroad flag station named for the owner of the land where the depot was located.
Scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2020, the CenterG project is transforming the once-sleepy Trade Street corridor into a hip and historic retail, dining and entertainment destination by creating an inviting village atmosphere with overhead lights strung across an all-brick, one-level streetscape shared by both pedestrians and vehicles. With no curbs or gutters, the road can be closed and turned into a European-style plaza for street festivals.
Lining the walkable thoroughfare are a collection of fun shops and restaurants, many housed in beautifully restored historic buildings. Among the most popular dining destinations are The Strip Club 104, Select Restaurant and Blue Ridge Brewing Co.
And more is coming. In the fall of 2020, a Hampton Inn will open on North Main Street, bringing with it additional retail space for shops and restaurants.
From Greer Station, visitors can take pathways to the 12-acre Greer City Park, a stunning green space with beautiful fountains, a gazebo overlooking a pond, meandering walkways, a picnic shelter and playground. The park also features a large meadow and amphitheater that serve as the venue for some of the city’s most popular annual events, including Railfest, Greer Goes Global International Festival and Freedom Blast, a summer celebration of the Armed Forces with old-timey activities, including pie-eating contests, sack races and a fireworks show.
Along with its railroad legacy, Greer also has held on to its agricultural roots. Once home to hundreds of family-owned peach farms, you can still pick up the juicy fruit at any number of peach stands around town and at Fishers Orchard, a Greer institution since 1930.