Downtown changing with new construction, renovations
Several downtown construction and renovation projects are nearing completion and others are expected to be completed next year. The Luther F. Carter Center for Health Sciences is essentially complete with some staff already moving in. It will be up and running for classes at the end of the August, according to Tucker Mitchell, FMU executive director of public affairs. Also, The Dr. R.N. Beck statue will be installed next to the fountain near the end of the month. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Aug. 4 at 10 a.m., ahead of a regularly scheduled FMU Board of Trustees meeting.
Tucker noted that the Carter Center was constructed and will be operated by FMU. The City of Florence provided the streetscaping. The fountain and statue are a joint project of the City and FMU. Mayor Stephen Wukela and and Dr. Fred Carter developed the idea of honoring Dr. Roswell Nathaniel Beck Sr. Dr. Beck was a Florence family physician who practiced medicine for 56 years. He was also a community leader, humanitarian, military veteran, an accomplished musician and a family man.
Also nearing completion is the renovation of the First Federal Building which will be the new home for Circle Park Behavioral Health Services. Circle Park executive director Randy Cole said he is anticipating approval for occupancy by the first of August and hopes to be moved in by Labor Day. Once Circle Park vacates the McKenzie Building, the third floor will be available for lease, he said. Construction is in full swing downtown on the 80-unit Emerson Apartment complex and the city parking deck on Cheves Street. On North Irby Street, steel work in going up on the second phase of HopeHealth.
Construction is moving along on the new Stokes Regional Eye Center at the corner of McQueen and Evans Street. It is expected to be completed by December. Renovations continue on the Kress corner and many other downtown buildings along North Dargan Street. Groundwork has begun on the City Basketball Gymnasium on Barnes Street.
When completed, the 35,000 square foot city gymnasium will house three full basketball courts, concessions, a hospitality/lobby area, office space, restrooms, storage and program rooms. It is expected to be completed next year. Elevator shafts can be seen going up on the site of the Florence County Judicial Center. The 120,500-square-foot judicial center will include 200 additional parking spaces and is being built across from the 44-year-old Florence County Complex.