The City of Florence, South Carolina is a small municipality of about 30,000 people located within the coastal plain region of South Carolina. Though it is still viewed as a major hub in the area, the city has seen some decline in its housing and infrastructure in recent years. Accordingly, the City of Florence began to employ the services of APD-U beginning with the Florence Neighborhood Revitalization to comprehensively address neighborhood revitalization. The partnership between APD-U and the City of Florence has expanded to include implementation of the housing plan and a multi-faceted marketing and branding campaign to support this initiative.
The City of Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy involved a strong community engagement component focused on keeping residents informed of the proposed implementation steps and development progress. Public outreach took a variety of forms including three open general public meetings, one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, and stakeholder interest group meetings.
GIS has been an important component of work throughout the Florence project. GIS analysis was used to help identify catalytic project areas during the planning process, and to track progress during property acquisition in the implementation phase.
Each catalytic project area has recommendations specific to the project area that detail urban design, streetscape design, and infrastructure recommendations. As part of the implementation strategy employed by APD-U, specific funding was sought for the construction of homes that carry income restrictions for the homebuyer, which necessarily creates affordable new construction options in the project areas.
The Florence Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy created a detailed plan for expanding opportunities offered in Florence through urban design and infrastructure improvements with the assistance of area residents. The recommendations presented in the plan build on existing neighborhood character and integrate sound urban planning principles to create a desirable plan.
APD-U provided the site plan and architectural design for houses across catalytic project areas that emphasizes neighborhood integration and sustainability. This process began with conceptual site plans drawn up in the Revitalization Strategy and has extended into tangible site and architectural schematics for construction.
As part of pre-development, APD-U contacted area property owners for property acquisition, spread out across three Catalytic Project Areas. The City of Florence continues to identify primarily small, single family parcels for acquisition in the projects efforts.
The team estimated financial feasibility for the first phase of construction through the creation of development budgets and pro formas. Once development was underway, APD-U provided construction management services while continuing pre-development services for next phases of the project.
APD-U oversaw the creation and execution of a broad marketing and sales strategy- flyers, brochures, websites, construction signs, logos, and attendance at local events throughout Florence were all used to spread the word. As part of this effort, the Catalytic Project areas were given the names Vista Place, Historic Pine, Sumter Station, and Old Carver Station.
APD-U guided the development of a credit repair and precertification program for first time homeowners through partnerships with local banks and the City of Florence. In order to build a strong pipeline of qualified homebuyers, APD-U also assisted in the establishment of an “Employer Assisted Homebuyer Program” wherein large employers within the city were targeted as partners in informing and assisting their employees in taking advantage of the opportunities being created through the NRS implementation.
APD-U and the City of Florence continue their partnership on this project. The first round of homes have completed construction, and the team prepares to begin a second, larger round of construction that will introduce a variety of house sizes to increase housing options.