Aiken mayor unveils partnership at State of the City address

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 11:16 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The mayor of Aiken unveiled the new plan for the face of downtown Aiken after the original Project Pascalis imploded.

The plan takes the $20 million in federal plutonium settlement funds and puts it towards a partnership with Savannah River National Laboratory, SRNL.

We were live from Hotel Aiken, the focal point of most of the project’s arguments.

It’s been four months since city leaders scrapped the plans, and Mayor Rick Osbon announced downtown Aiken will be the new home of a 40 to 45,000-square-foot office space for the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Members of the community say they hope this will add to the historic nature of downtown.

“I really hope the design actually enhances what the downtown is because that is the big thing. Aiken is, if anything, it’s character. The character of Aiken matters so much,” said Jane Page Thompson, resident.

The building would allow existing businesses like Newberry Hall to stay in place and Warneke Cleaners to relocate but stay open. Sam Erb tells us he thinks this will be a great addition to the community.

“The city of Aiken needs to be honored to have SRNL in the lab decide to pick downtown Aiken. I think it’s huge for Aiken,” he said.

As for Hotel Aiken, Osbon says in the next 40-60 days, a request for proposals to purchase the hotel will open to the public with no suggestion of what should be done to it.

This will allow interested buyers to tell the city their plan for the property and people in the community to evaluate those plans and have their voices heard.

Thompson said: “I’m really glad that going forward, we’re going to see everything. We’re going to see all the requests for proposals. The citizens are going to have the opportunity to look and evaluate them. It’s not just going to be a couple of people sitting in a room that have a personal stake in it.”

One of the biggest concerns with Project Pascalis was the lack of transparency. That’s why Osbon says the city will review the proposals for Hotel Aiken as a community.