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Francis Marion University bringing health science program to downtown Florence
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Francis Marion University bringing health science program to downtown Florence

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FLORENCE, S.C. — The former location of Circle Park will be redeveloped by Francis Marion University. 

The Florence City Council voted unanimously Monday afternoon to approve on the second and final reading an ordinance authorizing the conveyance of properties at 601 Gregg Ave. and 619 Gregg Ave. to the university. The approval includes a conditional grant and development agreement with Francis Marion University to develop a facility for a health science and medical education program. 

Florence County property tax records indicate the two properties were purchased by the city on June 29 from the Florence County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse for $1.5 million. 

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The properties were the home of Circle Park until 2016 when it moved to 238 South Coit St. That building was formerly known as the First Federal Building and also housed the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. 

Prior to Circle Park, the larger of the two buildings being conveyed to FMU served as the McKenzie School until sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The McKenzie School was previously known as the Circle School until its name was changed to honor former Principal Florence McKenzie. 

The eatery and bar across Gregg Street, called Circle Fountain, kept the Circle name. 

The agreement between the city and the university calls for the city to convey the two properties to the university upon its request, subject to an existing lease with Circle Park. 

In return, the university agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts to occupy the building by Dec. 31, 2025. Should an unforeseen event occur, preventing completion by then, provided substantial progress has been made, the city will extend the deadline two years to Dec. 31, 2027. 

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Government and Politics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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