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      Old hotel causes economic development headache in Florence

      Florence City Council members are saying they have lost prospective industries due to an old rundown hotel in Florence near the airport.

      "It looks like the slums right now, but it wasn't the slums. It was the old Holiday Inn," said Larry James of Florence.

      The building on East Palmetto Street was once a thriving hotel, regardless of what it represents now.

      The 40-year-old building was home to the Holiday Inn, Francis Marion Inn and Palmetto Inn over the years. Now, the hotel appears to be a home to vandals and a makeshift flea market.

      Florence City Councilman Glynn Willis is part of a joint commission with Florence County to improve the appearance of the area around the hotel and he says the hotel is unacceptable.

      "The stories that developers have come in to our city and big plant managers to look at relocating to Florence. And when they ride down from the corridor from the airport they're just so disappointed they turn around and go on," Willis said.

      The county is currently working on a federal grant to pursue demolition costs, Willis added.

      "We can't afford to lose industry or anything because of the fact that we are have been negligent in developing our neighborhoods. And that situation has been somewhat of a hindrance." Ed Robinson, a Florence city councilman.

      However, some people in East Florence believe demolishing the hotel should be a last resort.

      The city and county joint commission will meet again next month on this matter.