Business district expanding in downtown Florence

Business district expanding in downtown Florence

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Big changes may soon come to downtown Florence. City leaders recently changed a zoning ordinance allowing retail development in an area east of Court Street. Once a speedway to reach downtown Florence will soon be a shopping destination of its own.

"This is a fabulous opportunity for businesses that could occupy a small space, but they don't now have to worry about providing off street parking," said Florence Main Street executive director Teryl Shields.

The Florence City Council expanded the central business district along portions of Mobile, Tennessee and College streets, which means a rebirth of development downtown.

"Retail sales is the lifeblood of any community. That's where your sales tax comes from," Shields said.

She said a recent streetscaping project that reduced the speed limit, providing parking and new crosswalks, has really drawn investors and businesses to the area.

"So it was almost an immediate change to the atmosphere down here," she said.

"We love the location. We love feeling like we are a part of downtown and being in that community," said Donna Gray, co-owner of Studio 23

Studio 23 decided to move locations about a month ago. It's a workspace to over 40 local artists.

"We love our neighbors and we're hoping that the more neighbors, it just increases our business and hopefully, it will just improve the whole area," Gray said. "It's going to be a different vibe down this way, and that's, again, just going to be fabulous for Florence."

Within the past 18 months, Florence Main Street said a handful of businesses have opened up shop, and with this rezoning, it opens the door for many more.

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