Florence County considers $15M bond for parking garage

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – As downtown Florence grows, people in the area say parking is a big problem.

Van Rowell, Co-Owner of Reflection Images Photography by Tracy Rowell says parking is so bad, he sometimes has to park on the curb.

“At times it can be very crowded especially at the beginning of the week when court starts right behind us,” said Rowell. “Most times by the time we get here all the parking is taken.”

County Council will have 1st reading on a $15 million dollar bond Thursday night. Originally, the county considered working with the city.

“It’s not that we are not getting along at all. They think they need it somewhere else. We think we need it on the county property near the county building,” explained Council Chair Kent Caudle.

Caudle says the county estimates the garage will cost $11-12 million dollars. Council will also change the traffic pattern for the lot next to the complex.

“Nobody goes to the complex excited about going. They go to the complex for court, to pay a fine, pay property taxes, they pay a utility bill or whatever it is. We want to make it as convenient as possible,” he explained. “We want it strong. We want it safe.”

The City of Florence spent about $6 million dollars on its parking garage last year. Caudle says the County parking deck may be larger.

“That is an estimate. I’d rather come in way under that budget than I would over that budget,” said Caudle.

Rowell is all for a new parking garage in the area.

“It would work perfect especially for the downtown public events and things like that as well,” said Rowell.

Caudle says the Florence County Judicial Center should be up and running in January of next year. He hopes construction on the garage will start around that time.