City leaders plan new entertainment venue in Florence

City leaders plan new apartment complex, entertainment venue in Florence
Updated: Mar. 13, 2018 at 11:09 PM EDT
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FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence city officials recently revealed potential redevelopment plans for the old Carolina Theatre in Florence as the city continues to revamp its downtown scene.

The last time the 750-seat facility on South Dargan Street was used as a theatre was in the 1970s. After that, the building was used for church services until the 1980s.

Ray Reich, director of downtown development, said financing the renovations has been the setback.

"It's always been that people have wonderful ideas, but being able to go out and be able to do a project that was, you know, one-and-a-half to $2 million is always a stumbling block," Reich said.

Those renovations include doing away with the theatre and turning it into a multi-purpose event facility, something Reich said the city has been trying to do for several years.

After sending out proposals to developers across the country, the city has finally found their perfect match.

Reich said he can't say who the developers are until plans are finalized. However, he revealed the company wants to redevelop the theatre to be primarily used for concerts. It will also have a bar and even add on the abandoned pharmacy next door for extra space.

"That's really critical to downtown revitalization because you got to look at the future of downtown and that is our people that are in their 20s and 30s today," Reich said.

Now, with the potential developer, Reich hopes reviving the old theatre will add more nighttime vibrancy to the downtown scene.

"We think it's exciting and will bring some additional vitality to what goes on downtown," Reich said. "When you add an entertainment like this that takes it up to the next level, so we think that's a real important thing."

Reich said he expects to know whether the company will finalize their plans within the next three to six months. He added he's been speaking with a few outside developers on additional apartment complexes and hopes to announce a new apartment project in a few months.

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