Long before the creation of the Greenville Drive stadium and the city’s streetscape improvements to South Main Street (then Pendleton Street), Jeff Renow purchased the dilapidated warehouse at 924 S. Main Street with a vision for what the building could become. Jeff contacted me in 2005 to come and look at the building and discuss his vision for the space. Dark, damp, and cold, the building required quite a bit of imagination to picture what it would become. It was great to have a client like Jeff, who could envision the transformation and get excited about ideas when they were not much more that squiggly sketches on tracing paper.
Fast forward four years and enter the world of Zen, Greenville’s newest event venue that has taken the town by a storm. The once dingy space is now filled with light and warmth and is at the same time industrial chic and pure elegance. Working with Jeff was great because he rarely settled for the easy solution to a problem, but rather went for the solution that would be best in the long run and supported the aesthetic goals of the project. Owner of The Painted House, a specialty finish company, Jeff is a very “hands on” guy and did much of the work, especially the finish work himself and with his own crew.
The idea for “Zen” evolved as the design came together. Initially the space was intended to be a wine bar and art gallery but the need for a different type of event space became clear as the project progressed, so Jeff shifted his focus to filling this niche. The building offers a variety of spaces supported by a fully equipped commercial kitchen.
Another fun part of the project is the creation of a garden area that will be available for events, as well. I have always enjoyed landscape design and the opportunity to work with Jeff to create a garden space that would support the “Zen” idea was really a joy.
What made the project even more exciting is the green impact that the project would have. By renovating the warehouse rather than razing the site, used building materials were kept out of the landfill. Additionally, bricks that were removed to add daylight to the interior, were cleaned up and used to pave an new walkway and terrace area on the site. The project also contributed to the revitalization of an area of the city that was under-utilized and had fallen into disrepair but is no a vibrant neighborhood.