Florence approves $3 million to revitalize low-income neighborhoods

Florence approves $3 million to revitalize low-income neighborhoods
North Vista Street revitalization project
North Vista Street revitalization project

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence will use $3 million in tax dollars to revitalize low income, urban neighborhoods that have needed help for several years.

North Vista Street is where the first phase of the project will start in the next few weeks. There are three neighborhoods throughout the city that are a part of the redevelopment project. East Pine Street, East Sumter and Alexander Street are the other two neighborhoods.

Drew Griffin, Florence City Manager, said it represents about 38 percent of all the housing in Florence.

"It's not a matter of trying to move people out. It's a strategy designed to cause people to redevelop, reinvest and be able to see equity value associated with their properties," said Griffin.

The housing base includes East Pine Street, which is lined with dilapidated and abandoned homes.

The city of Florence has already purchased 20 homes out of the 50 they plan to buy, which will be transformed into single-family units, patio homes and duplexes. They are not purchasing owner-occupied homes, but focusing on the ones that attract blight and crime.

"We're working with churches through our community services department and solicitation of homeowners and we will soon be looking at contractors to come in and build," Griffin said.

An area where the city is spending the first $350,000 is on North Vista Street, which will ultimately help North Vista Elementary School as well. The city will put in new sidewalks, landscaping and pocket parks.

The city has already purchased some abandoned homes and vacant land in the area. The school's crossing guard, Ira Slater, has noticed the positive change.

"They got here this week and they cleaned up a lot. The grass was long and everything and they cleaned it all up and even pruned the trees. It's really nice now compared to the way it was," said Slater.

Griffin agreed, saying the vacant lot can also be a place that harbors crimes and other blight. The idea is to try to adapt those into reuse.

The street will have improved crosswalks for the elementary school and safer pedestrian access on the busy road.

"It is really a strategy to bring vitality back to historically disfranchised neighborhoods," Griffin said.

The home building will start early this summer.

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