City of Florence plans to resolve parking woes

The City of Florence plans to build two parking garages in the downtown area after concerns from residents about the lack of parking spaces.

One garage will be built behind the Florence City County Complex building on South Irby Street. The second near the upcoming Florence County Museum on Dargan Street.

The parking decks will cost the city up to $6 million, but will be funded through the Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIF).

TIF uses increases in business property taxes for infrastructure improvements.

"All of the increased property taxes stay downtown. So as these private sectors investors are investing their money downtown and because of that we need more parking. It's actually the property taxes that they will be paying from the increased values of their building that pay for the parking garages. So there is no additional burden on the taxpayer out there that's paying for their residential property. It's basically all coming from the downtown property owners. They're more or less paying for the parking through their own property taxes," explained Ray Reich, Florence Downtown Manager.

Many residents say they are pleased the city is working to handle the parking issues now in downtown Florence before it comes an even bigger problem when revitalization is finished.

"That should have been done a long time ago. I think it's been a long time coming," explained Tyreka Moses.

David Frazier co-owns Ella's Boutique in downtown Florence. He believes the parking garages could drive more people to do business in the area.

"I think it will help a lot for the businesses that are down here. I think it'll help and I'm all for it," said Frazier.

Florence City Council is expected to vote on the plan before March. If approved, construction on the parking garages could begin shortly after.