Apartments, rooftop bar, salon: Downtown Florence set for more growth in 2021

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FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The year 2020 was challenging for just about everyone, including many small business owners. Small business owners in Florence were no exception.

Despite the year’s hardships, Downtown Florence saw considerable growth, with much more coming down the pipeline.

LilJazzi’s Cafe and Salads is the district’s latest addition. It’s a new breakfast and lunch spot on North Dargan Street.

“I’m nervous,” owner Andrena Mullins said. “But excited at the same time. It’s one of those things that you cant really explain the emotions.”

Mullins had to temporarily close her airport location because travel has been down so much from COVID. She hopes to reopen it at some point. But her new downtown spot has seen a lot of early success since its Monday grand opening.

“It’s surprising how much people come in,” she said. “I’m really thrilled about how well it went for the grand opening.”

The city says Downtown Florence has faired better than many other communities when it came to growth through 2020.

“We gained more businesses than we ever thought we would have during a pandemic,” City of Florence Development Manager & Main Street Program Director Hannah Davis said.

The city saw nearly 14 million dollars in private investments in 2020, according to Davis. She explained that several businesses opened, and others expanded, while none closed strictly because of COVID.

“As we move into this space of more authenticity, more brick and mortar, small retail mindset… knowing the safety precautions they’re taking, I think that helped us stay alive,” Davis said.

2020 still took its toll though on some of the existing businesses. Most restaurants downtown projected at least a 50-60 percent dip in revenue for the year.

Still, a lot is on the horizon for 2021 in downtown. You can expect a new Lost Cajun spot, an upscale wine and beer store, salon, parking deck and a 40 unit apartment building on Irby Street. The city is keeping an eye on COVID to see when it can start its festivals again.

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