Aiken leaders reveal plans for downtown hotel, conference center
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - In a bid to revitalize downtown, the Aiken Municipal Development Commission plans to acquire seven parcels to host a full-amenity hotel, conference center, multi-family housing and parking garage.
Leaders want to be able to host regional conferences in the hotel and conference center on a redeveloped site bounded by Laurens Street Southwest, Richland Avenue and Newberry Street.
The commission is negotiating with several private developers and investors. A vote to move ahead with the plan is scheduled for Tuesday.
“The commission, which has been developing the plan for more than a year, is expected to approve the purchase,” said Keith Wood, chairman.
The commission believes control is needed over this “critical portion of downtown suffering from disuse and deterioration.”
“Acquisition of this property is a gigantic first step and precedent to the redevelopment of a significant portion of downtown,” the commission said in a news release, adding that it “plans to spur revitalization of downtown Aiken with private investment in an area that has been ignored and even avoided for many years by private investors.”
Redevelopment will address the health and safety concerns of abandoned buildings and is expected to significantly add to the city’s tax rolls.
The redevelopment of this property, formerly dubbed Project Pascalis, and anticipated follow-on private sector investment are expected to significantly enhance the downtown district.
The City Council already voted to issue bonds totaling $9.6 million that are intended to acquire the property.
“This is a generational opportunity and we feel the redevelopment of this property will transform our Downtown District into something that will continue to set us apart from other communities and will drive economic development for decades to come for our city,” Wood said. “I believe this redevelopment when completed will be something of which all Aiken residents will be proud and lays the groundwork to transform the most significant block in the heart of our community. All of Aiken will benefit from this action.”
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PARK INPUT: The Aiken Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department invites residents to attend a public meeting to share input and feedback on parks and recreation offerings. The meeting will take Nov. 9 at 5:30 pm. at the Lessie B. Price Aiken Senior and Youth Center, 841 Edgefield Ave. Data, feedback results and recommendations will be presented to Aiken City Council and made available to the public at the conclusion of this process phase.
STORY TIME: The city of Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will host Thanksgiving story time on Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. on the Rye Patch lawn, 100 Berrie Road. Children ages 8 and younger can enjoy Thanksgiving-themed stories read out loud. Every family in attendance will receive a free book to take home. Complimentary snacks will be available. An adult must accompany all children.
SAND RIVER PROJECT: The city of Aiken stormwater relief project for the Sand River will begin installation of retaining walls for the stormwater containers just inside of Hitchcock Woods and at the Laurens Street SW and South Boundary Avenue SW until Nov. 19. This phase will utilize pile driving equipment, placing steel members into the ground, resulting in intense and repetitive noises.
TREE TIME: The Aiken Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department will host the 33rd annual downtown tree lighting on Dec. 3 from 6-7:30 pm. This event will take place on Newberry Street in historic downtown Aiken. There will be music, refreshments, live performances and a countdown to the lighting of the tree. Kids can stop by the craft station to create a holiday keepsake.
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