Florence County Council approves $500k to expand Florence Civic Center

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – In the flagship city, a building with over fifty thousand square feet of multi-purpose space is one step closer to expansion.

“We just feel like it’s one of those quality of life issues that would bring more people to Florence,” said Florence County Vice-Chairman Kent Caulder.

Florence County Council approved $500k to expand the Florence Civic Center during its county council meeting.

The plan is to expand the Florence Civic Center twenty eight thousand square-feet at a cost of $16 million dollars.

“They started out at thirty-eight thousand square-feet with a budget of about twenty-eight million and the county said we’re not going to do that,” added Caulder.

The project will include an extension into the lower parking level, a new kitchen space and additional meeting room space.

County officials say out of the three the center’s biggest drawback is its lack of meeting space

“It just allows for those smaller gatherings and smaller breakouts for conventions,” Caulder mentioned.

The cost will be paid out over 35-years and the money will come mainly from accommodations and hospitality taxes..

“I think if we added a hospitality tax and a sales tax the area brought in now, I don’t know if it is losing money,” said Caulder.

In 2014 the civic center lost a little more than $750 thousand dollars due to cancellations and scheduling changes.

“We got a big barn and we need to fill it up. Community support would be a real way that the loss can be reduced,” Caulder explained.

Caulder says more than 23 ago before the Florence Civic Center was established property tax revenue brought in $445 a year.

This year Caulder says property tax collections will be around $2.2 million dollars.

Florence City Council, meanwhile, is expected to discuss its part of the deal to expand the facility during its next meeting next month.