FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - For the first time ever, a rooftop bar and entertainment venue is opening in less than one week in downtown Florence.
It's called The Dispensary, and with three stories, it's all about experiencing the sights of Florence, where the revitalization of a thriving downtown is right below.
The 50,000 sq. ft. building sits at Dargan and Evans streets. Kress Corner is meant to serve as a community within a community, right in the heart of downtown. It has taken three years to complete the $13 million transformation of Kress Corner, with only a few more months to go.
Ken Ard is one of the Florence investors, who also appears on WMBF Bounce newscast at 7 a.m. He says it's been a journey to complete the project. The Dispensary is a big part of it, and he said it's been both extensive and expensive, but he said it's all worth it.
"I mean if you think about it, never before Florence has been able to offer an amenity like this, so if you're a company, if you're a private group or another organization who wishes to rent the bar, sure I mean we are going to do a lot of large groups. We've done well at Town Hall catering to some of those events and we'll certainly do that as part of our business model upstairs at the bar," Ard said.
He added it's a risk to take in the city of Florence, but it's investment he believes in, along with help from the city of Florence, Florence County, The Doctors Bruce and Lee foundation and Dr. Fred Carter at Francis Marion University. People who he applauds who all want to make Florence better.
"The bar, the restaurants, the retail space, the professional space are all part of a Kress Corner, the five-building complex that is one," Ard said adding his team is all about doing things against the norm in downtown, and even go out of bounds.
"The easy thing would have been to find an exit on the interstate and build an Outback Steakhouse or a Marriott Hotel or something with a far better proven track record of return on investment, but we felt like you have to lead the Pee Dee and do something cool."
The Dispensary is more than 2,000 square feet of patio space with seating, the rooftop bar with a 360 degree view of downtown, exposed brick with flat screen TVs, and décor to match the rest of the historical building.
"We just want people to feel very much at home, feel very comfortable, we are in the hospitality business, we want to make people happy, and obviously the décor and the ambiance is a big part of that."
It is under same ownership as Town Hall. The Dispensary will be open seven days a week, with small appetizers, and a full bar.
Ard said, "I think if you look around and agree this is pretty cool in Florence, which is the hub of the Pee Dee."
The Dispensary's grand opening is Thursday October 6 and Ard said he and his team are excited to be open for their first weekend, and there is much more in store that we can expect coming to Kress Corner very soon.