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      Revitalization of downtown Florence in full gear

      In a matter of months, downtown Florence will start to be transformed. Old buildings will be renovated and a boutique hotel restaurant will be partly finished.

      A few years ago, city leaders adopted a plan to totally revitalize downtown Florence.

      The Florence Design and Review Board approved major renovations for seven buildings on West Evans Street.

      The city will match up to $10,000 for the renovations.

      The city's downtown director, Ray Reich, says he can't put a timeline on when the redevelopment of the area will be finished, but he says you'll soon start to see the upgrades.

      "It didn't get to where we are overnight. It's not going to change overnight. It's incremental. So, every month it needs to look better than it did the month before. Every year, it needs to look better than it did the year before. And What you'll see is that in a short period of time, you'll see a downtown that's attractive," said Reich.

      Reich adds they hope to capitalize on bringing tourism to the downtown by way of Interstates 95 and 20.

      He believes travelers will visit a downtown that's historic, quaint and filled with character.

      "There's almost 70,000 cars a day that's on Interstate 95 or Interstate 20 that pass our community. We need to capture some of those bring them downtown, let them eat here, let them shop here. Many of your leisure travelers they're looking for historic downtowns. They travel across America, they seek them out and we certainly can be one of them."

      The $7.2 million 50 - room boutique hotel and restaurant is expected to be finished in May, according to Reich.

      City leaders say it's the piece of the puzzle that could further jump start more redevelopment projects in downtown Florence.

      The city has a revolving loan fund to help business owners, including small micro-business loans and other incentives.