FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - While a Save-A-Lot was supposed to be up and running around this time of year in downtown Florence, construction and property challenges have the project at a standstill.
Instead of a building, right now there's still piles of dirt and rubble on the corner of North Dargan and East Darlington streets where the Save-A-Lot will be.
"They just want to see a building pop up, but it takes a long process," owner Timothy Waters said.
Waters said it took him 17 years to get the $4.5 million funding for the grocery store. Now with funding in place, it's tackling the old site that's the problem.
"We have to do a lot of site work, a lot of interstructure," Waters said. "We had to redo the water lines, sidewalks and put in a fire hydrant."
The weather is not making things easier. Waters said the rain is contributing to the delay, causing site issues like water retention.
"The site was just in terrible, terrible shape. I mean you haven't seen any new construction on this site in 50 years so we had to really stabilize the site," Waters said.
Water said learning how to run a grocery store is taking just as long. He added he's constantly traveling and taking classes every day.
"I have to go back and forth to Earth City, Missouri, back and forth to Greenville. I have to go to Florida," Waters said.
Still, Waters and other downtown business owners said the grocery store is what the area needs. Save-A-Lot will be the first grocery store in downtown Florence.
"Right now from where I stand there's 38,000 people with lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables," Waters said.
"Downtown, except for the restaurants, is kind of a food desert," Locomotive co-owner Billy McBride said. "There's no grocery stores for people on Dargan Street or Oakland Avenue to shop."
Although funding for the Save-A-Lot took 17 years and the construction is taking longer than expected, Waters said once complete it will serve the community for much longer.
"Now we're able to get that and get it right where we can actually build a supermarket that will be here for the next 50 to 60 years," he said.
Waters hopes to have construction completed by the beginning of 2019.