FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence is taking care of an old and abandoned building after officials declared it a blight to the community and a public nuisance.
Owned by CSX Railroad, the Quonset Hut sits at the intersection of Barringer and Pine streets. City officials said the building has been there since the 1930s and only one leaser has utilized it. A fire burned it down on Oct. 26, 2014.
The city of Florence was able to enter in an agreement on Jan. 28 with CSX Railroad to move forward with the demolition. Newly-elected Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore is behind the project and a voice for the east Florence community.
She said it's not going to happen overnight, but the city wants people to know change is coming soon and demolishing the abandoned structure is part of the overarching re-development strategy.
Moore held a press conference on Wednesday morning along with city council to announce the beginning of the project.
"When a team can work together and can collaborate on things, you can get it done," she said. "This thing, this monstrosity behind me, will finally be gone. Which is going to make this corridor look a whole lot better and will help build momentum and build hope in the community of east Florence. It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here."
Norman Gamble, reverend of the New Ebenezer Baptist Church, is right across the street from the old building. He agrees with what the city is doing.
"I've attended several meetings concerning the revitalization of Florence and I think it's important that east Florence, along with other parts of Florence, receive the kind of attention and care that other areas of Florence have received 20, 30 years ago," Gamble said.
Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said during the press conference Pine Street was once a central and very influential city street.
Wukela added the demolition of the building is a very critical part of redeveloping the street. The city will use funds already set aside to expand what's happening in downtown Florence.
City officials don't plan to redevelop the property, but instead landscape and beautify the entire corridor, according to Wukela.
The work will start in the next month after the asbestos is removed by Eastern Environmental Incorporated, a company the city hired. After that process, the city will bid for demolition work so a contractor can get started.