Downtown construction, renovations set for 2016
The year 2016 promises more improvements and new businesses for downtown Florence. Construction and renovations continue along West Evans from the corner of Irby to the corner of Dargan Street.
On the southwest corner of Irby and Evans, the imposing FMU healthcare education building, recently named the Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences in honor of the current FMU president, is being clad in red brick lending a stately impression to the historic downtown area. This 51,000-square foot, state-of-the-art instructional building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
Moving east down Evans Street to the northwest corner at Dargan is the renovation of the Kuker and Kress buildings. This extensive project features mixed-use space which will include apartments, a restaurant, office space and a roof-top bar. The restaurant is expected to be ready in the early part of the year.
Across the street on the opposite corner, the renovation of the former Royal Knight building was completed this month. The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and Key Architecture are now occupying the lower floors, and Hotel Florence has expanded into the upper floors with additional hotel rooms.
Around the block on Cheves and Irby Streets, a new city parking garage/apartments is taking shape. The parking garage will provide 350 parking spaces and wrap around an 85-unit apartment complex. The parking deck and apartments will be built in several phases simultaneously and are expected to be finished in the summer.
On North Dargan Street, at 142, the Art Trail Gallery will have a permanent home in another former Rainwater building which will be renovated in 2016. The Art Trail Gallery is currently located in the former BoSmith/Woolworth building at the corner of Irby and Evans. The gallery closes at this location on Dec. 31, expecting the new home to be ready in the summer or fall.
Major renovations are planned for another business project in the building vacated by the Art Trail Gallery and Alex Palkovich Studio. The impressive new Hope Health facility is nearing completion on North Irby Street, a few blocks away from the County Complex. It is expected to open in the early part of 2016. Stokes Regional Eye Center broke ground for a new $4.7 million dollar facility at the corner of McQueen and Evans Street in early November. Construction is underway and expected to be completed by December of 2016.
Circle Park Behaviorial Health Services has begun work for their future home in the former First Federal Building on Coit Street. This building was recently vacated by the Chamber of Commerce which moved into the newly renovated office space at the corner of Evans and Dargan. Circle Park CEO Randy Cole said the demolition work on the First Federal building is about done and renovations will begin in January. He expects to occupy this new space in June.
A little further away from downtown, the Florence Civic Center hopes to get funding approved to expand and add meeting rooms, pre-function areas, a larger kitchen and other amenities.