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Hartness Development announces Crescent Startup Community, large-scale mixed-use Innovation District

Hartness Development announced Crescent Startup Community, a large-scale mixed-use Innovation District that will foster innovation as a destination for the support and exchange of entrepreneurial ideas. In partnership with Flywheel, Furman University, South Carolina Research Authority, VentureSouth, and many others, Hartness Development will break ground on the project in early 2022 and Crescent will open late next year with the completion of Phase One.

“We are excited to introduce an Innovation District that will bring together and champion our thriving entrepreneur community,” said Sean Hartness, CEO of Hartness Development. “Greenville is home to many successful startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, but it lacks a large-scale space for them to meaningfully connect and innovate alongside like-minded individuals and organizations. This space is vital to accelerating and driving innovation, and Crescent will fill a gap by providing all resources in one central place. With this strategy and a broad approach to startups, we see this Innovation District generating hundreds of new ideas and businesses.”

“The time is right for Greenville, really the Upstate, to have an Innovation District,” said Anthony Herrera, Chief Innovation Officer of Furman University. “Poinsett Highway is the ideal location to house a live, work, play, and learn community focused on the future of education, work, and economic development. Crescent Startup Community is possible because of the collaboration between academic, civic, and corporate stakeholders focused supporting our entrepreneurial and innovation community. This place will provide everyone access to the resources and connections necessary to successfully launch and grow their venture.”

In collaboration with institutional partners, entrepreneurship service organizations, and college and university programs, Crescent will offer opportunities to live, work, play, and innovate as the Upstate’s first Innovation District. Through Hartness Development’s partnerships with Flywheel, Furman University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, South Carolina Research Authority, and VentureSouth, Crescent will connect inception and growth-stage companies with students, faculty, and alumni and offer programming designed to stimulate ideation, structured development, and access to investment capital. This will include incubator programs for students, alumni, and the community; pitch competitions; extensive professional networking and mentorship; boot camps and design thinking workshops; social entrepreneurship study away programs; curriculum majors, minors, certificates, and more. Complementing Crescent’s coworking, maker and collaborative common area spaces will be a curated mix of tenants including Fitness with a View and Methodical Coffee among others.

“Flywheel is thrilled to be working with Hartness Development, Furman and all of the other resident entrepreneurship service organizations involved in Phase One of the Innovation District,” said Peter Marsh, founding partner of Flywheel. “Our coworking innovation space, amenities, and programming provide affordable full-service support for startups, solopreneurs, consultants and freelancers that are the heart and soul of any entrepreneurial ecosystem. In all the regions we serve, we try to co-locate a continuum of entrepreneurship resources under one roof so that any founder that walks in the door has access to developmental support and a contiguous capital stack. We look forward to bringing new value to the ecosystem in a vibrant live/work/play/learn district-scale community.”

Crescent will sit on seven acres of land ideally located off a new future spur of the Swamp Rabbit Trail and in proximity to many Upstate destinations, including Downtown Greenville, Furman University, and Travelers Rest. Its location on Poinsett Highway is a site rich with innovation history as the former home of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company. Led by Thomas Hartness, the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company was a driving force in the bottling industry and overall economic growth of mid-twentieth century Greenville. Hartness was a leader in the Pepsi company, having purchased the Pepsi-Cola Bottling rights in Greenville in 1940, and in technological innovations within the soft drink and bottling industry. As an entrepreneur he successfully expanded his company into other packaging enterprises, eventually building Hartness International into a worldwide powerhouse. The renovation and historic designation of the bottling facility building is Phase One of the project and it will be an anchor of the Innovation District. The remainder of the district will open in phases with new construction and the creation of green space.

The site was also home to The Piedmont Shirt Factory, which was a hub of the textile industry when Greenville was known as the textile capital of the world. The location of the factory was within the city’s “Textile Crescent,” an area known for its innovation. The Piedmont Shirt Factory is also where Max Heller, an entrepreneur who would later be the mayor of Greenville, first worked as an immigrant from war-torn Austria during the Second World War.

“Crescent will energize and retain our entrepreneurs, as well as continue the revitalization 0f Greenville’s Poinsett Corridor,” said Jim Burns, COO of Hartness Development. “The land we acquired along Poinsett Highway has the potential to grow into a 15 to 20-acre site and Crescent is the start of our strategy to rekindle and continue the location’s innovation history. We will restore the area to foster our own entrepreneurs and to attract large companies and institutions from around the region who can bring opportunities and further build the community.”

Crescent Startup Community will be located at 701 Poinsett Highway. For more information on Crescent, please visit

About Hartness Development

Hartness Development is a collection of experienced planning, design, construction, real estate and finance professionals who create legacy projects that stand the test of time and seek better solutions for the challenges of today. Hartness, an award-winning urban village located on Greenville’s Eastside, is the company’s latest project and Hartness Development has also announced Crescent Startup Community, a large-scale mixed-use Innovation District launching on Poinsett Highway in 2022. Hartness Development has experience in commercial, residential, and hospitality projects and combines innovative new ways of financing and designing to bring to life community-minded legacy projects.


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