FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce has been preparing to move into its new location the past two decades. Just a few years ago downtown Florence had nothing, but because it's growing more than ever the Florence Chamber specifically chose this location to be their new home.
Mike Miller, President of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce says, "Now we're visible, we're here. We get to participate in a lot of revitalization downtown which we are very excited about and what's yet to come, we get to benefit from. We're loving it. We wanted access. We wanted people to be able to get to us fast, quick, easy. We wanted to be visible and offer people opportunity to use the Chamber and have our members be able to interact with us. It's much easier being within reach."
That's why Miller says they wanted Dargan and Evans to be their front doorstep, but it didn't look like this a couple years ago. It was known as the royal knight building, which was a dilapidated mess with broken windows, homeless people and filled with bats. "We thought well we have to have some imagination here, because the building really was not a show place let's put it that way," Miller said.
Now the top to bottom renovation is filled with two conference rooms, eight office spaces, a large courtyard and an area to host events just for Chamber members. It's even a multi-purpose building. Hotel Florence added sixteen hotel rooms on the top floor and Key Architecture firm is moving in next door.
The sidewalks are getting a face lift too. Ray Reich, Downtown Development Director for the city of Florence says its been forty years since the streets have seen help. "The sidewalk area outside the intersection is going to get blue stone which will makes for a really nice appearance, and we are going to re-landscape all of that and re lay the brick areas adjacent to that," Reich said.
Reich says the investors are doing their part to improve downtown, so the city should do the same. "It's certainly not fair to the developers, you look at the Kress project which is over 11 million dollars, it'll be done probably early summer, its not fair for them to invest that kind of money if we as the public entity, the city, don't do our part to beautify what's around them," said Reich.
Miller explains that, "Now we have the physical location to back up some of the stuff we've been talking about doing."
Plans for the street scape improvements will go all the way from Lucas street to national cemetery road. The improvements are expected to be done by late summer.