Aiken’s public gets a peek at Project Pascalis, offers opinions

New Aiken drawings
New Aiken drawings(WRDW)
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 3:08 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - There was a full house Wednesday night in Aiken as debate continued over Project Pascalis, a plan to revitalize downtown.

There were two sessions for the public to learn about the plan to demolish and replace the old Hotel Aiken while also adding new retail space, apartments, a parking garage and a conference center.

People heard full update on the project, which included new designs and a traffic study.

Then folks got the opportunity to voice their opinions and ask questions. And the old municipal building was packed to the doors with people eager to weigh in.

Overall, the crowd was split for and against the project Wednesday night.

“We do want to make sure to take seriously those that have concerns, and that really informs the process. And it helps us to make it better,” Tim O’Briant, director of economic development for the city of Aiken

Developers showcased new designs of what Newberry Street and Richland Avenue may look like in the future, including a new extension of Newberry Street’s sidewalk from 30 feet to 60 feet.

And a one-way road design was at the center of the traffic study done for the project.

“The supply does still exceed the demand with this plan,” Jennifer Beal, Aiken’s on-call traffic engineer

The study goes back to 2015 and points to growth, requiring more parking, especially at peak nighttime hours.

That’s something the new parking garage is meant to handle.

People took their turns to weigh in on the design of it all. Among the comments:

  • “This has nothing to do with respecting the historic fabric.”
  • “I think we all know that this is going to be really good for the vitality of downtown.”
  • “This needs to be done thoughtfully, this needs to be done with much public input, and not rushed through.”
  • “I’ve now sat through your presentation twice, I was also here this morning, it was just as good the second time.”

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