Downtown Incentives

 

 

The City of Florence desires to encourage appropriate redevelopment work within the City’s Historic Overlay District (HOD) and to support the effort to preserve buildings, structures and cultural artifacts which have significant historic value.  To assist in these goals, the City provides financial incentives to qualified projects undertaken in the Municipal Redevelopment District (MRD).  The MRD will be conterminous with the HOD, except as may be modified by Council.

CURRENT EXPANDED INCENTIVE AREA MAP (CLICK TO VIEW LARGER)

 

To be eligible for the financial incentives of the new District, a development must be fully compatible with, and meet all requirements of the HOD. Click on the incentive or grant name to download applications. If an application is not available online, please call the City of Florence Downtown Development Office for more information.

Available Incentives:

Façade Grant Program:

Grants of up to $10,000 shall be provided to property owners or tenants to improve the exterior appearance and functionality of the facades of buildings.  Grants require a minimum of a 50% match by the property owners.

Sign Grant Program:

A grant of up to $500 to provide business signage on the exterior of buildings.  All signs must be approved by the Design Review Board and be compatible with the historic character of the overlay district.  No match is required.

Design Assistance Grant:

Grants up to $500 will be provided for architectural work required to create scope of work or design services for building facades.  No match is required.

Business License Credit

Businesses locating in the H1 District will receive a $300.00 credit towards their first year business license fees.  If the first year liability is less than $300.00, any remaining credit balance will be carried forward to the second year.

Low Interest Loan Pool Program:

Low interest loans of up to $250,000 are available for property purchase or building renovations.  The program is in partnership with local financial institutions and borrowers must meet the loan credit and underwriting requirements of the participating bank–40% of the loan will be at a fixed 2% per annum rate with 15 year amortization, 50% shall be at 1% under prime with a floor of 4%,  and the remaining 10% will be the required equity by the borrower. The terms of this program are subject to change.

Micro-Enterprise Loan Program (MELP)

A micro-loan program providing loans up to $15,000.  The loan can be used for building renovation or for operational purposes.

Bailey Bill:

The SC Legislature permits local entities to assess qualifying historic buildings on the pre-rehabilitation fair market value for the length of the special assessment.  The period can be up to 20 years and the length of time is set by the local government.  Because the downtown Florence district is a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, the use of the incentive will not typically apply.

Utility Incentives:

Waiving of all commercial municipal solid waste charges for services:

For five years, from the date of the certificate of occupancy for the new or renovated building, the City will waive all commercial municipal solid waste charges for services.

The following utility shall be made available to projects involving the  renovation of a historic structure where the renovation investment is equal to, or greater than, 30% of the value of the renovated building.  The incentives for those qualifying projects shall be as follows:

Reduction in initial water and sewer connection fees:

The City of Florence shall provide a 50% reduction in initial water and sewer connection fees (physical tap and unit contributory loading fees)

Reimbursement for costs to connect building to the City’s water, sanitary sewer or storm sewer system:

This incentive shall provide a direct reimbursement for actual construction costs (not connection fees discussed above) necessary to connect the new or renovated building to the City’s water, sanitary sewer or storm sewer system, not to exceed $25,000.  Reimbursement will be available to the developer when the certificate of occupancy is issued.

Note: Except for sanitation fees, no other monthly fees (water, sewer or storm drainage) will be waived or discounted.

Business Redevelopment and Historic Building Grant Program

Because the demand for this grant exceeds the available funding, this is a competitive grant and after a staff review of the application, the final selection shall be made by City Council.

Available Grants:

Historic Building Maintenance Grant:

This grant opportunity is directed at existing buildings located within the H-1 Florence Historic District. The grant is to be used only for repairs that will stop the intrusion of water into a historic building. All buildings within the H-1 District are eligible; however, priority will be given to those buildings either listed as a contributing member to the National Register boundary within the Downtown Area or individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The grant shall not be used as a match for the City’s façade grant program or used to comply with the City’s maintenance and appearance codes.

The grant is specifically designed to provide funding to include items such as roof repair or the replacement or repair of other exterior elements (non-architectural) that are allowing rain to enter the building and damage the interior structure of the building. Therefore, a proposed project should eliminate the deficiency causing the deterioration of the interior of the building.

Interior Up-fit and Maintenance Grant:

This grant opportunity is directed at existing or new businesses located within the H-1 Florence Historic District. This grant is to be used only for repairs or up-fits to the interior of a building that will either repair or restore original architectural or structural elements of the building or up-fits that cause the building to be “retail ready.” Generally, all up-fits must be permanent improvements to the building and may include but not be limited to display windows; new construction such as bathrooms or changing areas; certain electrical, mechanical, and plumbing work; and interior repairs to walls, windows, and flooring. In determining priority among grant applicants, emphasis shall be given to the degree the project preserves or establishes “historic” or other like architectural features in the interior of the building.

Rent Subsidy Grant:

This grant opportunity is directed at supporting business activities within the H-1 Florence Historic District. To be eligible for this grant, a tenant must be in one of the following categories: (a) a tenant which was located in the H-1 District as of January 1, 2015 in a building where “significant renovation”* occurred resulting in at least a 50% increase in the rent being charged; (b) a tenant that is a business start-up originating out of the North Dargan  Innovation Center. Rent Subsidy Grants shall not be greater than fifty (50%) percent of the rent payment and are limited to the first two years of operation. The total subsidy grant may not exceed the maximum grant amount.

*See Resolution Number 2015-03 for complete details on qualifying renovations.

Maximum Grant:

The maximum grant amount received shall be Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000). No business location will be eligible to receive a grant award more than once every three years.