Mayor Whalen Gives Annual Report to Rotarians

by Pat Moynahan on September 26, 2017

Florence Mayor Diane Whalen.

Florence Mayor Diane Whalen.

FLORENCE – Senior housing is popping up everywhere, Mall Road is rebounding and a community plaza is almost ready to go.

That’s the good news from Florence Mayor Diane Whalen.

The bad news is the heroin epidemic rages on, unabated.

The mayor presented her annual update on the city’s well-being at the Florence Rotary Club on Monday, Sept. 25. The city’s location along Interstate 75 and makeover of Mall Road continue to create a business-friendly environment, she said. Over the past year, the city has seen a big increase in senior housing construction, in particular.

“Between senior living and new hotels, that’s pretty much what we’re seeing in development,” Whalen said. Among the senior housing developments are the following:

  • Dominion Senior Living – 60-unit (84 beds) assisted living facility on Seligman Drive, scheduled for completion in Spring 2018.
  • French Quarter at Orleans – approximately 50 homes to be constructed off Longbranch Road, over the next two years.
  • Magnolia Springs – 100 assisted senior living units on Ewing Boulevard, now completed.
  • Villages of Florence – 177 ranch style rental homes on Hopeful Church Road, scheduled for completion in Spring 2018.
  • Villages of Weaver – 56 ranch style rental homes on Weaver Road, scheduled for completion in Summer 2018.

Hotel developments include renovation of the Hampton Inn on Turfway Road, and construction of a 109-room Hilton Home2 Suites on Woodspoint Drive and 82-unit Comfort Suites on Merchant Drive.

Mall Road has seen the opening of Chick-Fil-A, Rapid Fire Pizza, Outback Steakhouse, Causal Male XL and Integrity Staffing Solutions.

“After it was redone, Mall Road became an attractive place (again) … a destination,” Whalen said.

The owner of Florence Center on the west side of Mall Road donated nearly an acre of land for a community gathering place to the city. The Florence Community Plaza will feature bronze statutes of a police officer, firefighter and public service worker.

Florence’s public safety officials are struggling to stay on top of the heroin epidemic, according to the mayor. The city has hired three additional police officers whose primary responsibilities are working in neighborhoods and talking to businesses.

“It’s all consuming some days for our police and fire officials,” she said.

“We need the help of neighbors and the community to contact us when something doesn’t look right.”