Florence County moves forward with parking garage, new Judicial Center

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Florence County leaders are moving forward with plans to build a parking garage near the Florence County Complex building.

Chris Potts said it took him about ten minutes to find a parking spot at the complex.

“Parking is kind of limited,” said Potts.”It’s a little congested.”

Thursday, Florence County Council decided to start looking for an architect to design a parking garage for the complex area. Vice Chairman, Willard Dorriety explains the county will use money saved from Capital Sales Tax Two projects to pay for the garage.

“The projects actually came in at a lower cost than we had expected,” said Dorriety. “It’s allowable in the law for us to apply it to the parking deck.”

Dorriety said the county hopes use about $5 to $6 million dollars to build the parking deck.

“We’ll take that revenue and attempt to build a parking deck without having to put anymore burden on the tax payers with future tax increases,” explained Dorriety.

The Judicial Center is expected to be completed at the end of this year. When it is completed, several offices will move to the center across the street. Dorriety says the tentative plan is to renovate the current complex and lease the office space.

“If you don’t have parking, nobody is going to lease space for a business or office,” he said. “If you don’t get here early you don’t get a parking space. [Or] If you come around in the afternoon to do business, then you’ll have trouble finding a parking space. We feel like it’s something that is needed.”

During the planning phase, the architect will create the design and price for construction. Potts said he is happy council is planning to build a garage.

“I think the benefits will outweigh the cost. To be able to get here without having such a headache with finding a spot,” Potts concludes.

Last year, the City of Florence built a parking garage inside the Emerson Apartments on Irby Street, less than two blocks away from the County Complex.

Ray Reich, Florence Downtown Development Manager said parking study with the city suggests another garage is needed but not for another few years. Reich said the study predicts future growth in other areas of Downtown, not in the complex area.

City Mayor, Stephen Wukela said the City will not be partnering with the County for the garage.