Florence eye sore to be torn down

Florence, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A building in northwest Florence many people call an eye sore will be torn down. County Councilman Al Bradley announced Tuesday the old church at the intersection of Clement Street and Ingram Street will be demolished.

But the demolition is not part of a city of Florence program to tear down abandoned homes and clear vacant lots.  Instead, Bradley is funding the demolition project with funds allocated to him through county council.

Every year Florence County Council members are provided with money for use on county improvement projects. The money is used for projects at each council member's discretion.

The money can roll over from year to year and Bradley is using about $16,000 for asbestos treatment and demolition of the building. Some of that money was left in the account of Bradley's predecessor on council.

"Maybe this land can be used for something positive instead of just sitting here being a blight to the community," Bradley said.

Many people who live near the old church say they have been asking for the building to be demolished for years. They say the building degrades their neighborhood and detracts from the positive things going on across the street at the City of Florence Northwest Community Center.

"People have some decent houses around here, around this neighborhood, and that just degrades it all," nearby resident Harriett Smith, who has lived in the area for about 70 years, said. "It was something that should have been done back years ago, but they never decided to tear it down. That could be a blessing within the neighborhood. If we can get that accomplished maybe we can accomplish something else."

Bradley also said he worries the building could be a health hazard because of asbestos and the wildlife and mosquitoes that breed there. The building is also suspected of contributing to illegal activity in the area.

The old church is just inside the Florence city limit and the mayor said city council may have considered demolishing the building as part of its ongoing community improvement efforts. However, Bradley said as a county councilman he represents much of the area as well, so he decided to be sure the demolition happened without waiting for city council.

The demolition is expected to begin by July.

Florence City Council has allocated $63,000 in the next fiscal year to continue the city's program to demolish abandoned homes and clear vacant lots.

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