FLORENCE, S.C. – The city of Florence is backing an upcoming code-named development – “Project Leopard Orchid" – that will bring a $1.6 million investment to the downtown and surrounding areas.
Though officials didn’t give any specifics, city council documents indicate a project that will bring “quality, authentic grocery items and local produce” to a “store facility” to serve downtown, as well as the northern, northwestern and eastern parts of the city.
The Florence City Council approved a $300,000 incentive package for the project’s developers in order to facilitate the start-up, a common move by the city for downtown development projects.
“It’s a project designed to provide within the North Dargan Street and Darlington Street corridor,” Mayor Stephen J. Wukela said. “Obviously we’re aware of the needs in that area, and this investment meets all of our typical analysis for investment.”
According to the grant agreement, the facility will contain approximately 15,530 square feet of space, create roughly 30 jobs and will operate in a “food desert.” A food desert is classified as an area lacking fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful whole foods options, usually found in impoverished areas.
Documents also indicate that this project is being built by a local nonprofit organization.
“Recognition is given to the fact that the developer team has worked diligently to establish a unique partnership with a local nonprofit corporation and a large food service provider in order to bring to the project both significant development experience and significant experience in the operation of grocery stores in food desert environment,” the documents state.
The area where the project will be located wasn’t named but has been acquired by the city and is described as “blighted” and in need of clean-up.
No timeframe was given for the project, but documents dictate construction should begin by Dec. 31 of this year and be completed by Dec. 31, 2018.
In April of this year, the city council approved plans to convey nine acres of property to the Harvest Hope Food Bank, a local nonprofit organization, for a $4.3 million facility on Lucas Street.
Officials remained mum on whether the Harvest Hope project has any relation to Project Leopard Orchid.
The business news you need
With a weekly newsletter looking back at local history.