Downtown Florence to get $10M facelift

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - One of the biggest investments in downtown Florence will change the face of nearly half a block of North Dargan Street, with an estimated $10 million renovation.

"It will be a mixture of retail shops, on the second floor there's going to be office space and loft apartments, and on the third floor there will be loft apartments and a rooftop patio," said Phillip Lookadoo with the City of Florence.

Lookadoo is the Director of Planning, Research and Development for the city.

The Kress, Kuker and Guaranty Bank Buildings will all have to go through major renovations to turn them into what city, county and private investors hope becomes a featured attraction in the downtown Florence area.

"You always want to see the residential piece to downtown revitalization come about," said Lookadoo.

The apartments slated to be built in the space, will be the first housing units in downtown Florence.

With people living downtown, the hope is that the area will once again return to the center of the city's commerce.

"In every case, the city tries to partner with everyone who is interested in developing in downtown, and it really has been, in particular this case, a cooperative experience between developers, the city, and the county folks and to degree the state," said Lookadoo.

Lookadoo said these types of developments help increase Florence's vibrancy and make the area a place to be for people and industry.

"It ultimately attracts the talent, by talent I mean folks who are looking for jobs," said Lookadoo.

In turn, the companies looking for that specific work force by investing their industry in the area.

Lookadoo said times are changing, and people are deciding where they want to live, and then seeking out a job.

In the past, Lookadoo said it was vice versa.

One of the investors on this project said an official timeline hasn't been ironed out.

The group really wants to make sure to preserve the historical integrity of the properties, while also taking the time to make sure every square inch of this unique project is done correctly.

Pre-construction is slated to begin in three months.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.