FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A small business owner in downtown Florence is being forced out of their property after council members voted to use eminent domain.
The property that sits at 142 South Irby Street is the business in the middle of this case.
“City Council voted to approve the use of eminent domain… if the city could not come to a settlement of price,” Florence City Manager Drew Griffin said.
Griffin said the city offered the owner of the property $51,000. The City of Florence plans to tear down 142 South Irby, and the neighboring building, to use the space for a new road, which will lead to the future parking deck and apartments a private investor is building.
The issue is that $51,000 offer.
“The owner is a willing seller and the issue is price,” Griffin said.
The city said more negotiations still have to take place, but if a dollar figure can’t be agreed on for the property….the court will decide on a final selling price.
“And this is a public project…This is ingress and egress to the deck and the parking area that is for the downtown businesses,” Griffin said.
The city paid between $25,000 and $30,000 for 140 South Irby, which is next to the property at the center of the current negotiations.
WMBF News found the tenant that once rented 142 South Irby and asked him about his relocation outside of the immediate downtown area.
“I had to move from a 1500 square foot, building to a 1,000 square foot building and it was kind of hard and it was kind of inconvenient that way,” said Small Business Owner Toy Dobson.
Dobson said the city helped him with relocation fees, for which he said he is grateful.
“All I can say is downtown is not for the small business man,” Dobson said.
And with that continuing to be a growing concern among some property owners, WMBF News asked the city about the role of locals in downtown Florence.
“The City of Florence downtown development is really being driven by local developers. The Lat Turner and associates who are doing the deck wrapped with apartments are really the first large-scale non-local developer,” Griffin said.
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