Whalen Gives ‘State of the City’ to Florence Rotarians

by Pat Moynahan on October 4, 2015

FLORENCE – Retail and commercial development are booming again in Florence.

Two “big box” retailers, a fitness facility and a large restaurant/entertainment center are under development just south of Florence Mall. A large clothing store and two restaurants are going up across Mall Road in Florence Square. The operations center for a local bank and a seniors’ living community are coming to Dream Street. And new health care facilities are in operation in two locations in the city.

Mayor Diane Whalen

Mayor Diane Whalen

“Retail is who we are to a large extent,” Mayor Diane Whalen told members of the Florence Rotary Club on Monday, September 28.

“That’s not necessarily what we chose to be, but that’s what we are. So we decided to be the very best we could be at that.”

Whalen updated Florence Rotarians on the “state of the city” at the meeting. Among the retail and commercial businesses recently opened, under construction or in development are the following:

Florence Heights off Mall Road – Costco plans to open in November. Also coming are Menard’s Dave & Buster’s and Planet Fitness.

Florence Square off Mall Road – Burlington Coat Factory, First Watch and Gold Star Chili plan to open this fall.

Dream Street – Heritage Bank recently moved its operations center there and the 100-unit Magnolia Springs Senior Living is under construction.

Health care facilities – St. Elizabeth Healthcare opened an urgent care center and Commonwealth Orthopedics expended its office on the former Natorp’s Nursery on U.S. 42. UC Health opened a facility on Cavalier Boulevard last fall.

“Revitalization of Mall Road has driven a lot of new investment and development,” Whalen said. She noted businesses around Mall Road contribute more than $35 million in sales tax to state coffers, more than any other location in Kentucky.

Florence, which began the fiscal year with a $52 million fund balance, is financially “in the best shape in any city in Kentucky,” the mayor said. However, the city is not without challenges. Florence dealt with three officer-involved shootings during the year – none involving a fatal shooting by an officer. Repeated drug and crime problems led to the closure of a motel.

“We have been touched by all the big-city problems, but we still have maintained our hometown image,” Whalen said.