Historic downtown building back in business
Another downtown building has received a major facelift and is now home to two local companies. Med-Enroll and Employee Reward Solutions moved last week into the newly renovated Rainwater Building at 151 West Evans. The three-story brick building with a tan-brick facade was constructed in 1921 by I.R. Rainwater. It has housed many businesses since then, including the Florence Business University and The Sanitary Cafe, but is probably best remembered today as The Fashion Center.
Rainwater Development, including Frank Chisholm, Tim Norwood and Kerstin Nemel, purchased and renovated the building which is part of the Florence Downtown Historic District. “We are excited to be the first large employer to relocate downtown,” commented Frank, adding the two companies bring great foot traffic for other downtown businesses. The building was renovated to maintain its historic character, noted Tim.
The result is a bright fresh interior with the vintage feeling of a nearly 100 year-old commercial building still intact. “It was important to have an impact downtown and take an old building and make something special,” said Kerstin. The plaster walls were redone, hardwood floors on the third floor preserved and all of the high ceilings kept intact. All the high standards for historic building were followed, Kerstin commented, explaining that the team worked closely with an historic consultant in Charleston, local architect Randy Key and Gilbert Construction.
Even though it required more effort, cost and lots of compromises to adhere to the standards for historic renovation, the team agreed it was worth it. “It becomes a labor of love because we decided to maintain so much of the original integrity of the building,” Kerstin stated. In keeping with original design, the building maintains its store front opening on West Evans Street, but the main entrance for the two businesses are located in the rear of the building, facing the County Complex Building.
Med-Enroll is a new business in Florence. It provides insurance enrollment services and currently employs 50 people. However, the company plans to increase staff to 150, said president Kerstin Nemel. Employee Reward Solutions offers career placement for people with disabilities who are SSDI recipients. It works closely with Social Security’s Ticket to Work program, explained company president Frank Chisholm. Also known as ERS, the company was established in 2010 and was previously located on Celebration Blvd.