Leaders add Irby Street to city of Florence redevelopment districts

Irby Street development

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The Irby Street Overlay District is now a part of the city leaders’ redevelopment plan to improve the area and attract more businesses.

Irby Street is one of the main corridors into downtown Florence. City Manager Drew Griffin said one of their redevelopment goals is to improve all of the corridors and make them more attractive to businesses and tourists.

"It’s a very well-known fact that good business begets good business so at the end of the day that is what the city is interested in doing and that is increasing business and increasing the economic prosperity for the community,” Griffin said.

The district extends from West Lucas Street on the south end of Irby Street to Cherokee Road crossing North Irby Street.

Griffin said the area is a highway and commercial area consisting of mainly storage, auto stores and warehouse businesses.

As downtown revitalization expands, Griffin said the community can expect to see some of the buildings renovated to fit the downtown redevelopment scheme.

He's hoping entrepreneurs will take part in the district’s redevelopment.

“For them to take old buildings and discarded and sometimes are not in their highest and best use to convert into their highest and best use,” Griffin said.

By being an overlay district, there are certain regulations for things like construction that new businesses will have to uphold to ensure an attractive, unified look.

Griffin said the city offers incentives to help businesses redevelop.

Marlon Orias, co-owner of the Well Center Pharmacy on South Irby Street, opened shop 10 days ago. He agreed with city leaders about requiring businesses to have the same standards.

"Not just to make it more attractive, but more practical for the whole community to come," Orias said.

However, it's not just making the area more inviting for the community, but for outsiders as well.

Griffin said most comments left on sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor paint a bad picture of the area leading into downtown Florence describing it as “sketchy.”

"We don't believe that it's sketchy, but certainly we want to enhance that because we want our visitors to feel comfortable, we want our business people to feel comfortable," Griffin said.

"They have more development in West Florence and business spreads there, so I think it’s time for this side of town to have the development we’ve been waiting for,” Orias said.

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