Florence's secret 'project tulip' coming to downtown

Florence's secret 'project tulip' coming to downtown
(Source: Audrey Biesk)
(Source: Audrey Biesk)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A $13 million investment is coming to downtown Florence that will bring at least 60  jobs in the service industry.

The developers are asking the city to keep it a secret, calling it 'Project Tulip.'

It's all part of the development going on at the intersection of Evans and Dargan streets. The city re-aligned the intersection here about a month ago, which created the corner lot to develop.

"We are going to convey to them that corner lot for the purpose of the development and we are also providing parking downtown for the use of that development," said Florence Mayor Steve Wukela. "So that's the project tulip agreement council voted last meeting, to enter into that agreement with the developer and that's signed and sealed."

It's not just a private investment either. Wukela said the city and county agreed to solve the parking issues and poor pedestrian access by providing more than 110 parking spaces, improving the sidewalks and handling street beautification.

The intersection will be extended with a four-way crossing stop and improved signals to fix congestion.

"We are enthusiastic about what is happening on this corner," said Ken Ard, with the Florence investor team. "'Project Tulip' will be a great asset here, but I'll speak for Kress Corner and let the other investors speak for their project. We are absolutely collaborating and supporting one another."

Ard is behind the Kress Corner development, which will bring a new restaurant, Town Hall, coming in spring 2016, as well as apartment living, a rooftop bar and other businesses.

He said this new project will only help improve the area.

"Those are jobs created, those are good jobs being developed down here," Ard said. "We believe sincerely that once the business community looks around to where to grow their business, they'll look to downtown Florence."

The intersection is historically the central intersection of town and Wukela said the four corners that are developed are very powerful.

"You'll have a police sub station on one corner, which provides security (and) safety," Wukela said. "The other, you have (the) 'Project Tulip' development, which will draw a lot of activity. Then you've got Hotel Florence, which is already very successful and strong, and then you have the Kress Corner development. I think this will create the task of causing Evans and Dargan streets to be one of the most powerful intersections in town."

The city is sure that when the public finds out the official announcement in the coming weeks from the developers, there will be even more enthusiasm in the area.

Construction is set to begin by spring 2017.

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