Creating local community

Sarah Jones, Staff Writer

For the past 15 years, the Florence Downtown Development Corporation (FDDC) and the City of Florence have implemented plans to revitalize downtown Florence. This has included renovating current spaces within the area, beautifying outdoor areas, constructing new buildings and hotels and developing new shops and venues. I believe this plan is one of the best decisions the city has made.

The downtown Florence scene has changed drastically since I moved here in 2013, and I believe it is an amazing change. The number of restaurants has grown, and there are more opportunities for people to mingle with fellow Florence residents and to express their creativity. Some local restaurants have moved to the downtown area in hopes of getting more business, and they have drawn more attention to the area. The area thrives during events such as Florence After Five and the Pecan Festival.

However, I think the area needs more local shops and more places for people to eat brunch so they can enjoy eating outside. Many people like to eat and shop locally, so bringing more businesses like this downtown would help the area thrive. There are enough opportunities to renovate old buildings that are vacant or to utilize empty space to develop buildings for new businesses.

While there has been progress towards these things with the opening of Town Hall, The Dispensary and Local Motive Brewing Company, more could be done. I feel that a restaurant serving only breakfast or brunch would be ideal. It would bring people to eat downtown and bring more customers to other local businesses such as Consider the Lillies, Dolce Vida, TthomasArts and Pee Dee Bicycle. Victor’s is essentially the only place in the area that serves brunch, so I feel this would provide healthy competition and give the community more variety.

The construction of the Emerson apartments and the new Hyatt hotel will draw in students, locals and tourists to the area. If there are more interesting places to eat, shop, or explore, people will be more apt to stay in the area and want to spend time there.

The Performing Arts Center (PAC) draws in a crowd of both music and theatre lovers. By hosting a variety of artists and performers in its space, the PAC draws in people who have a passion for the arts and people who might not otherwise view this type of entertainment. Some professors require their students to attend performances, which could encourage them to return for future events.

Within the next five years, downtown will have grown so much more and will provide new activities for the community. New businesses will be more established and have a more regular consumer base, which helps both them and the city. It is important for a city to have a thriving downtown area so people within the community can be entertained and support each other.