FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence One Schools recently purchased the Fitness Forum and Forum Spa buildings, located on Elm Street behind the McClenaghan building.
Superintendent Richard O’Malley said the district purchased the Elm Street Corridor to provide a larger space for adult education and give the district a space to work on projects in the future.
The additional space includes a gym, an outdoor pool and apartments.
Demolitions and renovations on McClenaghan will begin in February of this year and are scheduled to conclude in May 2021.
O’Malley said the adult education program needed gym space to explore some other avenues of community and adult education.
O’Malley said the apartments will be renovated to become office space and conference rooms. O’Malley’s vision is that the apartments be used as a teacher village, or a place where teachers could live, as an incentive for teachers to come to the district.
There is a proposal that part of the recently purchased space could be used to house students as a school facility, O’Malley said.
With the outdoor pool, O’Malley said this could provide opportunities for the district’s swim team to have a training facility and allow for community swim lessons.
“We’re really committed to bringing kids back downtown,” O’Malley said. “We think that is a big part of the vision that the town has for downtown."
The city of Florence has committed approximately $200,000 to fix the parking area outside the newly purchased property, O’Malley said.
Karen Leatherman, president and owner of Fitness Forum, said the businesses will remain open through a short-term lease that will allow the businesses to transition to new locations.
In the space Leatherman has three businesses: Fitness Forum, Forum Spa and an occupational testing service, which provides annual physicals for firefighters and drug testing and wellness screening for state employees.
Leatherman said she will remain the owner of the occupational testing services company, but Landra Calcutt, who has worked in Forum Spa for a long time, will move the business. Bobby Bethea and Brock McCallister will start their own gym called Flo Town Fitness, Leatherman said.
“I’m passing my babies on to younger employees who have been with me for a long time and have been extremely loyal to me,” Leatherman said. “It’s an opportunity for people who have been extremely loyal to have their own business.”
Leatherman said she wanted to give Calcutt, Bethea and McCallister ample time to get their businesses started. The three are looking for locations to house their businesses.