Mayor of Florence to address city

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela is set to give his annual State of the City address at Victor's Bistro in downtown Florence Tuesday night from 6-8 p.m.

Wukela plans to lay out the city's accomplishments in revitalizing downtown Florence, including its successful efforts to lure private investors to open a hotel in the area.

The city approved tax credits to help attract the $5.3 million hotel.

Florence City Manager Drew Griffin calls it the first key private project as part of the redevelopment of downtown Florence.

Wukela is also expected to talk about the Florence Museum, which is being constructed at the corner of West Cheves and Dargan streets.

The new museum is expected to open in early 2014.

Mayor Wukela says the city has worked hard to eliminate abandoned properties that affect its neighborhoods.

The city has demolished nearly 90 homes and cleared more than 400 overgrown lots in the past five years.

The city is seeking to reinvest in these neighborhoods just as it's done with downtown Florence, Wukela said.

During his address, Wukela is expected to go into more details about the city's efforts to help the Town of Timmonsville with its water problems.

If Timmonsville voters approve a referendum Tuesday, the City of Florence will take over the town's water and wastewater systems.

The takeover will cost Florence more than $12 million in repairs to the water system and to assume a $6 million loan the town has with the United States Department of Agriculture.

City officials say they're expecting nearly 150 people to turn out for the mayor's address.