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Wow, I made the paper? I gotta see this . . I'll search on the Florence Morning News website, although it seems to delete most older stories since I couldn't find anything about the SkyView Drive-in.

Hope my little 2 cents got a few people riled up (for better or worse) to talk about this important issue, or at least added some fuel to that fire!

Digital, I'm unsure about the UP rules about linking to scanned copies of newspaper articles, so I'll try to e-mail you the link if you want to check it out.

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Digital, I'm unsure about the UP rules about linking to scanned copies of newspaper articles, so I'll try to e-mail you the link if you want to check it out.

Thanks, flotown, for sending me that! I'm glad someone notices our blog, and actually reads what we say without getting irate. However, the columnist embodies the attitude of most Florentines: "oh well, at least we have ___, ____, and ___ . . [buildings]" That's not what it's all about! Individual buildings are important, but it's the whole district, neighborhoods, etc., that need preserving and revitalized. They just don't get it, and that's so obvious when you visit downtown FloTown, sadly. It doesn't have to be that way, though, right? I love Florence, and it deserves better. I'm just baffled by the lack of any movement to revitalize and reinvent downtown. The new library and theatre are great, but that is down Irby Street (which does need its own continuing revitalization, of course). But how about downtown--it's getting ignored. Is it racism that fuels this? A shopkeeper downtown (who was black) on a recent visit I took told me the reason was the powers that be want the status quo--the good ol' boy system at work keeping the black folks down. (That was the gist of what she said, not a direct quote. She did point out the nice new library and theatre being built.) It gave me pause, and I thought, much to my dismay, "she's right!" Florence has GOT to get past the race issue if that is indeed the case before they can go forward. Where are the visionary town leaders? Where is the outcry from Florence residents? Someone please step forward!

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Florence does need to get past the race issue, but there is plenty of blame for both races. Blacks always use the race excuse whether it truly applies or not. It is a convenient excuse to not listen, or to take action.

Florence has been trying to revitialize DT for 40 years, including when it was largely white owned and managed. Lots of mistakes were made, none of which were particularly unique to Florence or had ANYTHING to do with race.

The shift in the '60s to suburban malls was a national shift of consumer tastes. No matter what Florence (or most cities for that matter) did, a decline of some degree was inevitable.

Functional (and often) historic buildings where demolished to make room for more parking. Unfortunately without the businesses in those buildings, there was no reason to go (or need to park) there.

The whole idea, was to 'create ' mall-type parking and atmosphere (Promenade) out of the old-style DT. That was a mistake many other cities did as well, Sumter and Rock Hill to name two.

Another big mistake was the idea that DT only consisted of four blocks, 100 N. Dargan, 100 S. Dargan, 100 W. Evans St., 100 E. Evans and sometimes 200 W. Evans thrown in for some things. The current approach to look at the entire central core is the right one, albeit special attention is needed to those "core' blocks mentioned above.

The Library and Theater will concume significant space that could not be found in the 'core' without STILL MORE demolition. That is clearly not the answer.

Until he passed away a year or two ago, the guy in charge of the entire DT effort was black, BTW. The black community needs to get past the past, and realize that ANY effort to help DT, is prmarily an effort that will benefit blacks, since the white shoppers and land owners left long ago.

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Florence does need to get past the race issue, but there is plenty of blame for both races. Blacks always use the race excuse whether it truly applies or not. It is a convenient excuse to not listen, or to take action.

Florence has been trying to revitialize DT for 40 years, including when it was largely white owned and managed. Lots of mistakes were made, none of which were particularly unique to Florence or had ANYTHING to do with race.

The shift in the '60s to suburban malls was a national shift of consumer tastes. No matter what Florence (or most cities for that matter) did, a decline of some degree was inevitable.

Functional (and often) historic buildings where demolished to make room for more parking. Unfortunately without the businesses in those buildings, there was no reason to go (or need to park) there.

The whole idea, was to 'create ' mall-type parking and atmosphere (Promenade) out of the old-style DT. That was a mistake many other cities did as well, Sumter and Rock Hill to name two.

Another big mistake was the idea that DT only consisted of four blocks, 100 N. Dargan, 100 S. Dargan, 100 W. Evans St., 100 E. Evans and sometimes 200 W. Evans thrown in for some things. The current approach to look at the entire central core is the right one, albeit special attention is needed to those "core' blocks mentioned above.

The Library and Theater will concume significant space that could not be found in the 'core' without STILL MORE demolition. That is clearly not the answer.

Until he passed away a year or two ago, the guy in charge of the entire DT effort was black, BTW. The black community needs to get past the past, and realize that ANY effort to help DT, is prmarily an effort that will benefit blacks, since the white shoppers and land owners left long ago.

Vic, I agree with you on some things: sure, downtown Florence was a victim of suburbanization like all the rest. But it still doesn't explain why Sumter, Rock Hill, or even smaller towns like Mullins and Abbeville and Conway and Hartsville and Ridgeville and York, etc., etc., etc., can do it, but not Florence. It is 2007, isn't it? There's really no excuse with all the grants, incentives, tax breaks, and proof it works that exists out there. It's a no-brainer. So how do you explain it, then? The people of Florence are well-educated, so you can't blame stupidity.

Not having their older district(s) protected as historic, as the original post pointed out, is an easy problem to solve: it just takes the passing of few basic ordinances. Pass laws to provide tax incentives, facade improvement grants/loans, or hire someone with experience from one of the aforementioned towns who knows how it's done. Why doesn't Florence do any of that? There must be something we are not privy to that keeps the downtown "down". It really is puzzling, and I don't think I'm the first to be perplexed. The perception at least exists about the good ol' boys ruling the town--I've heard this for years from residents even. If it is a false perception, and Florentines are tired of being made fun of, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, especially if potential future industry and residents are important.

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thanks for the update. what an outstanding-looking center to be built downtown. city of florence has so much potential...then i am probably basis because i grew up there and in the county when florence was indeed the center of everything in Eastern South Carolina...

fmc.jpg

Edited by Zahc

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thanks for the update. what an outstanding-looking center to be built downtown. city of florence has so much potential...then i am probably basis because i grew up there and in the county when florence was indeed the center of everything in Eastern South Carolina...

fmc.jpg

ZAHC - Hey...I'm just down the 101 or 280 from you in Sunnyvale. When did you live in FloTown? I was there from 1967 to 1976 and then 1990 to 2000 when I moved to CA... - fupaladinatyahoodotcom.

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ZAHC - Hey...I'm just down the 101 or 280 from you in Sunnyvale. When did you live in FloTown? I was there from 1967 to 1976 and then 1990 to 2000 when I moved to CA... - fupaladinatyahoodotcom.

...Florence is my birth place and I attended public school in Johnsonville. My mother still lives on the outskirts of Johnsonville with her third husband. I left Florence in the Fall of 1977 to attend college in Charleston. Then lived in Springfield, Mass for a spell before coming back to South Carolina. After shorts stints in Columbia, Myrtle Beach and back in Charleston (which I was passionate about back then), I was invited to San Francisco in November 1983 for two months of an amazing adventure. Though I at first had no intentions of staying so far away from my family, I met so many wonderful people here that I decided to stay. That was almost twenty-four years ago...

Edited by Zahc

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Thanks, flotown, for sending me that! I'm glad someone notices our blog, and actually reads what we say without getting irate. However, the columnist embodies the attitude of most Florentines: "oh well, at least we have ___, ____, and ___ . . [buildings]" That's not what it's all about! Individual buildings are important, but it's the whole district, neighborhoods, etc., that need preserving and revitalized. They just don't get it, and that's so obvious when you visit downtown FloTown, sadly. It doesn't have to be that way, though, right? I love Florence, and it deserves better. I'm just baffled by the lack of any movement to revitalize and reinvent downtown. The new library and theatre are great, but that is down Irby Street (which does need its own continuing revitalization, of course). But how about downtown--it's getting ignored. Is it racism that fuels this? A shopkeeper downtown (who was black) on a recent visit I took told me the reason was the powers that be want the status quo--the good ol' boy system at work keeping the black folks down. (That was the gist of what she said, not a direct quote. She did point out the nice new library and theatre being built.) It gave me pause, and I thought, much to my dismay, "she's right!" Florence has GOT to get past the race issue if that is indeed the case before they can go forward. Where are the visionary town leaders? Where is the outcry from Florence residents? Someone please step forward!

Sure there is racism in Florence, but I don't know if that is the reason for the state of disrepair of the downtown area. I think the building owners have just neglected their properties, and the city has done a poor job getting them to them fix up. I'll admit that if I owned one of the properties, given the state of the area, I would be hesitant to put a lot of money into the structure. The risk-reward is too skewed too much toward the former.

On the issue of race, while most blacks in town probably would like DT to be cleaned up, I think that many black store owners (and some customers) would fear that renovating the area would bring higher rents, and the resulting gentrification would be met with resistance. The "they're trying to kick us out" cries would be heard, as they always are when revitalization efforts are discussed and implemented. Unfortunately, some displacement will be necessary, unless we want DT to continue to look like this:

1399796376_1fd792ca09.jpg

1398903949_bd17fa1709.jpg

Tax breaks could be offered to existing store owners to help offset higher rents (assuming the area is ever renovated, especially around the Dargan and Evans area). But there needs to be diverse shops and restaurants that are going to draw the entire community. A Starbucks; an independent record store (i.e. Manifest); a fine dining restaurant as examples. The current spate of payday loans, low-end reatailers (Maxway) and boarded up shops will continue the status quo. There is no reason why DT can't become a place where all races and income levels can come to shop, eat and interact at cultural events. This could only be good for race relations in the long run. The current segregated, economically depressed state of the DT only exacerbates racial divisions in the community.

Edited by flotown

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Sure there is racism in Florence, but I don't know if that is the reason for the state of disrepair of the downtown area. I think the building owners have just neglected their properties, and the city has done a poor job getting them to them fix up. I'll admit that if I owned one of the properties, given the state of the area, I would be hesitant to put a lot of money into the structure. The risk-reward is too skewed too much toward the former.

On the issue of race, while most blacks in town probably would like DT to be cleaned up, I think that many black store owners (and some customers) would fear that renovating the area would bring higher rents, and the resulting gentrification would be met with resistance. The "they're trying to kick us out" cries would be heard, as they always are when revitalization efforts are discussed and implemented. Unfortunately, some displacement will be necessary, unless we want DT to continue to look like this:

1399796376_1fd792ca09.jpg

1398903949_bd17fa1709.jpg

Tax breaks could be offered to existing store owners to help offset higher rents (assuming the area is ever renovated, especially around the Dargan and Evans area). But there needs to be diverse shops and restaurants that are going to draw the entire community. A Starbucks; an independent record store (i.e. Manifest); a fine dining restaurant as examples. The current spate of payday loans, low-end reatailers (Maxway) and boarded up shops will continue the status quo. There is no reason why DT can't become a place where all races and income levels can come to shop, eat and interact at cultural events. This could only be good for race relations in the long run. The current segregated, economically depressed state of the DT only exacerbates racial divisions in the community.

Well said, flotown! I share your hopes that DT Florence can transform itself and finally be the asset it should be to the city.

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Performing Arts Center News...get it while it's hot and the url still works....

http://www.morningnewsonline.com/midatlant...10-17-0018.html

Hey, fupaladin--hope you are well out in Sunnyvale! :)

I'm not too wild about the FMU Perfoming Arts Center design. What a bizarre mix of country school and Roman temple. And what's with all those damn pillars? :huh:

Egad!

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It looks like the Southpark Shopping Center on the corner of Irby and Second Loop is being demolished (or at least the end stores on each side). It has been there at least 35 years. I don't know how the Roses has contined to stay in business with the Super Wal-Mart a half mile away. It certainly isn't cheaper prices or better selection.

Enlarged Photo

1793810546_07778eb245_b.jpg

P.A.'s Restaurant and the old Southpark post office used to operate in these storefronts.

Enlarged Photo

1793808742_fc34e0d459.jpg

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I haven't heard what they're going to do with it. I think Roses is staying, but I'm not sure about the surrounding shops. I can't for the life of me figure out how Roses makes enough profit to afford a location at one of the the busiest intersections in town. They must own their building and the land it sits on.

My fondest memory of Roses is when you used to have to pay a dime to use their filthy toilets. That was in the late 70's and I don't think they've renovated the inside of the store since then.

Edited by flotown

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The Pecan Festival is in downtown Florence this weekend. I've never been, but according to this article, it attracted 30,000 people last year, and 40,000 are expected this year.

Pecan Festival

The article also mentions a possible $3.9 million state grant to build a Florence County/City museum, but it doesn't mention whether this is for a facility for the existing museum. I hope so, since I think an additional museum would be a waste.

Edited to add the official website.

Edited by flotownscot

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The Pecan Festival was today, and I must say, I was impressed with the size, the number of vendors, and the attendance. For those of you that are familiar with downtown Florence, it is a dismal place. I think hosting festivals like this one is a step in the right direction. Just having the streets filled with people made it exciting. I took these pictures with my phone, so I apologize for the poor quality.

Irby Street facing north. The Trust Building is on the left, and the City/County Complex is on the right.

trustcomplex.jpg

A couple of photos of Irby facing south to show you the number of vendors and an idea of the attendance.

irbysouth2.jpg

irbysouth.jpg

A closer look at Irby with the Trust building and City/County complex. See how even ugly buildings look better when there's a crowd around them?

irbynorth.jpg

Evans Street facing west.

evanswest.jpg

Cheves Street facing west.

cheveswest.jpg

Cheves Street facing east. You can see the top of the new McLeod tower in the center of the photo.

cheveseast.jpg

One of the few remaining downtown churches in Florence is Central United Methodist Church. The Presbyterians, Lutherans and Catholics moved to the suburbs years ago. For the festival, they hosted a choral music concert and I took these pictures, because I believe this building is a true architectural gem for the city of Florence.

The exterior. I hate that the dome didn't show up in this picture.

central.jpg

The interior of the dome inside the sanctuary.

centraldome.jpg

Stained glass windows on the south side of the sanctuary. After the concert, they gave a tour and lecture on the history of the windows.

centralwindows.jpg

The chancel.

centralchancel.jpg

Edited by flotownscot

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Thanks for the pictures. This proves that Florence will show up to downtown events. Thats a positive sign in getting teh downtown area revitalized.

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Great pics, especially coming from a cell phone. Sorry I couldn't make it on Saturday.

Nice photos of Florence. By the looks of all people and activity, downtown doesn't look dismal. The skyline resembles downtown Berkeley, CA...

To quote Lloyd Bentsen.....

"I know Berkeley, I've spent time in Berkeley, I like Berkeley, and Florence, you're no Berkeley".

Seriously, I work in downtown Florence, and it is in fact dismal. It is the neglect of the buildings, as well as the absence of ANYTHING going on after 6PM (anything legal). It is slowly improving along Dargan Street from Palmetto St heading south. But the rest of DT is a disgrace. The street fair atmosphere may have made it resemble Berkeley in the pics, but if only Florence's DT looked like Berkeley's in real life. You may be right about the skyline itself resembling Berkeley's, but street level is a totally different story.

Here are some pics of Berkeley, by the way. Gives Florence something to shoot for

berkeley-housing.jpg

berkeley_keskust.jpg

berkeley-sunset.jpg

1864923253_e2fb8cccc0.jpg

1865902622_396dc44f2b.jpg

Edited by flotown

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True that Berkeley's downtown is more alive than Florence...I used to work in Berkeley at Rockwood Leadership Program on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd...and found it interesting enough...but that old brick bank highrise building downtown does remind me of what I remember of Florence's highrises. What's weird is that when I was a boy growing up there, downtown Florence was bustling on the scale as Berkeley is now, and the streets were crowded with shoppers and people...My grandfather would drive into Florence through some back highway that seemed deep in the woods via Pamplico, and I remember I hated it because of the view of the backside of numerous downtown brick buildings with rusted or aged coca cola & clothing store advertising signs that were not very attractive. But Florence was only place to shop. Then SEARS and the other major retailers were downtown. So maybe that was why Florence was so busy...

But it's North Berkeley, that looks somewhat cleaner, that I enjoy more than downtown Berkeley these days prob. cause I worked there...and used to frequent Cheese Board Pizza on Shattuck Ave for lunch. Cheese Board is lots of fun with a menu that changes daily and usually features live jazz band. People unable to fit inside the small place or at the sidewalk tables picnic with their pizza on the median across from the Board...What would be nice if Florence were to create an arts & entertainment district similar to Berkeley's downtown Addison Street. Once filled with auto body shops, Addison Street has blossomed into a hub of live theatre, live music, and performing arts education...

Arts & Entertainment District, Addisson Street, Berkeley

addisonstreet.jpg

Edited by Zahc

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I'm not sure if Berkeley, CA- a urban city/suburb in one of the nations largest metropolitan areas and home to a relatively prestigious university- is comparable to Florence, SC in any way. The skyline reference might be relevant- but I don't know what Berkeley's looks like. If Florence could pull off 1/3 of what Berkeley has based on those pics, then I would consider it a resounding success.

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Nice photos of Florence. By the looks of all people and activity, downtown doesn't look dismal. The skyline resembles downtown Berkeley, CA...

I'm a little stunned that anybody could seriously perceive that Berkeley in any way resembles Florence, SC. Anyone lucky enough to live in the SF Bay area with a good job should thank their lucky stars and forget about Florence. You have opportunities before you in the Bay Area that are undreamt of in Florence. I hope you can realize that, and make the most of it.

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I'm a little stunned that anybody could seriously perceive that Berkeley in any way resembles Florence, SC. Anyone lucky enough to live in the SF Bay area with a good job should thank their lucky stars and forget about Florence. You have opportunities before you in the Bay Area that are undreamt of in Florence. I hope you can realize that, and make the most of it.

Don't be stunned. I've always been considered somewhat "strange" and slightly spoiled...Indeed, I do count my lucky stars every day, and I'm grateful for all the opportunities life has offered, including the good job I currently have in San Francisco. Memories of Florence come (only here) because a small part of my family still resides there...I think about them, the places back there, but know I couldn't really live there again. Berkeley is distinctly Berkeley as San Francisco is San Francisco, and Florence itself...By writing resemblence I meant the brick highrise building, same as I might have seen on a street in LA, Rome, Milan, New York. Culture never entered my thoughts...I've seen, lived Florence's culture and know better than to ever percieve that...Still, the place remains my roots. That's something I cannot forget or simply run away from as if it never existed. I love it here, always had from day 1 and knew it was home...but I would never bash where I came from or compare its culture to something it wasn't...

Edited by Zahc

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