FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – Momentum continues in downtown Florence with the next addition, a craft brewery called Local Motive Brewery.
At a council meeting on Monday, the City of Florence approved an incentive package to encourage the development of the brewery at a building on North Dargan Street, right next to Town Hall.
The proposal is to spend about $550,000 in improvement costs for the building, with about $180,000 in incentives coming from the city, which will be recouped in tax dollars. A benefit analysis indicated to the council that the tax dollar benefit would exceed the cost of the incentives package.
Billy McBride, Owner and man behind the brewery coming to downtown said, "I think downtown Florence, we're a generation behind several downtowns, but I think were at the time that we can make a giant leap forward." McBride is ready to take the leap. He said it's a risk though, being the first brewery to make their mark in downtown Florence. He signed the lease on the building on Tuesday afternoon making it official.
McBride said, "Yes it is scary today, but I have faith in the city leadership that the downtown will continue to thrive, if you listen now you hear construction all over, there's apartments going in, new business going in, a new hotel going in, and I do believe the foot traffic will increase as these become open."
His only fear he explained is the fact that foot traffic downtown is still not where he wants it to be. " I think I'm still concerned about you know the lack of alternative transportation in Florence, no taxis, and no Uber." McBride said hopefully that will change as more growth continues.
The 3600 sq. ft. space will be a brewery first, but also a restaurant. The brew house and kitchen on one side, and the 70 seats and bar on the other side. McBride said the décor will match the historical aspect of the rest of downtown. "We'll be a place where you come to us hang out all day, have continual hours from lunch through evening and nighttime, happy hour specials and be open seven days a week," McBride said.
He added that is what hopefully will set them apart from the other two breweries in Florence. Southern Hopes and Seminar Brewery, because of the extended hours and the goal to get people to stay and hang out for a while.
McBride said it all started as a vision from home brewing in a garage with a friend the last seven years, and one year ago he finally wanted to make expand and make this happen.
"We hope it gathers more tourists off the interstate that will come into town and see what Florence has to offer and not just stop at the chains on the side interstate, I'd like for it to help all the local businesses downtown."
Construction is expected to be complete by Spring 2017.
A craft brewery was named as one of the "11 Signs a City Will Succeed" in article in "The Atlantic" earlier this year. The Local Motive Brewery would be the second brewery in the city; the Seminar Brewery opened in Florence two years ago. The owner, Bryan Fisher, said the brewery began as a dream between him and his friends, and has since become the first commercial brewery in the city.
"We go to beer festivals all over the state and people come and say, 'Florence?' Fisher said. "Because they have an association from 10 years ago and they are surprised to see a brewery in Florence, and actually really happy about it and happy to see the town growing and embracing new things like craft beer."
"They draw in young people, they draw in folks from throughout the state and the country," Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said. "You can't overstate the importance of breweries or restaurants or hotels, these quality of life amenities that make Florence an enjoyable place to live."