FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - On Thursday, the City of Florence celebrated the completion of three new homes in Vista Place, the city's initial development in the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program, with a ribbon cutting and open house.
Realizing the need for better neighborhoods, the goal of the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program is to offer a variety of housing options to a diverse group of residents.
"One thing that I've always found when I go into a community meeting or neighborhood meetings is that regardless of the neighborhood they all want the same thing," City Manager Drew Griffin said. "They want safe streets, they want reinvestment, they want their children to come and live in these neighborhoods."
The city funds the project several ways, including applying some of the city's 1 penny sales tax money – all totaling to almost $11 million of new investment.
City councilwoman Teresa Myers-Irvin has lived in the northwest Florence community all her life. Irvin played a huge part in bringing neighborhood redevelopment to the city's attention when she realized the community lacked healthy neighborhoods.
"Seniors have passed on, and the young people have moved away," Irvin said. "The housing market had declined, there was not a good housing stock so I knew we needed more homes, new homes so the younger generations could return home."
So far, the city has acquired more than 50 residential properties and have 22 more homes to complete.
"Now when you come to Florence, you can decide where to live. There will be house available throughout Florence not just in one area and that's so important," Irvin said.
Before the construction of Vista Place, city officials visited several redeveloped neighborhoods in other cities.
By only redeveloping abandon or vacant homes, City Manager Drew Griffin said instead of displacing people, the city is working add to core communities in the area.
"It's a slower and a little bit more difficult process, but long term it's more sustainable and its better for the neighborhoods, because they feel a part of the process," Griffin said.
With new homes sitting across the street from North Vista Elementary built just a few years ago, Councilwoman Irvin says the city of Florence is moving the right direction.
"This simply will cement the growth of the community, which will also cement the growth of the city because in order to have healthy cities, you need healthy communities," Irvin said.
In addition to working on future developments in Sumter Station, Old Carver Station and Historic Pine, the city is also working on roadways and parks in the neighborhoods.