FLORENCE, S.C. -- Last year saw the continued growth and development of the downtown Florence area.

Approximately $55 million in new projects were completed in 2018. During the past seven years, almost $200 million has been invested in the historic downtown district, and it is anticipated that there will be another $50 million to $75 million invested over the next two years.

In 2011, there were only two restaurants downtown. Today there are 14, with three more scheduled to open this year.

New retail shops have opened, and downtown living now offers 100 upscale apartments as well as a number of owner-occupied upper-story condos. Occupancy has been extremely strong, and as a result more rental apartments, upper-story housing and condominiums will either be completed or under construction in 2019.

Since 2011, more than 40 buildings downtown have transitioned from vacant and blighted to renovated and occupied. Others that were occupied but unsightly have received facelifts, and more significant renovations will be completed during 2019.

The Hyatt Place Hotel recently opened, giving downtown two hotels and almost 200 hotel rooms.

Carolina Bank recently completed a major renovation of a historic building at the corner of Irby and West Evans streets, and it now houses the bank’s corporate headquarters.

The new gymnasium complex opened this past year on Barnes Street.

This spring, the newly renovated plaza on South Dargan Street will open and will include a splash pad. Other plaza improvements will be made in 2019, and a walking/running trail system will also be incorporated in the coming months.

Streetscape improvements continued in 2018 that included East Evans Street, the 100 and 200 blocks of North Dargan and numerous improvements in the South Dargan blocks, including sidewalks from downtown to National Cemetery Road.

Downtown is “the place to be” for social events. Thousands of people attend the numerous street festivals and other downtown events, including the monthly Florence After Five concert series, concerts in the outdoor plazas and numerous other street festivals.

Every Saturday, a City Center Farmers Market featuring local farmers, artisans and craftsmen is held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Later this year, the market will move to its new permanent location on Sanborn Street in a new building now under construction that will include a commercial kitchen for community use.

Downtown Florence is full of life, and we are moving ahead full forward!

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