UPDATE | Plans to turn old Aiken hospital into apartments falls through

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Thursday, January 31, 2019

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A big change for the Old Aiken County Hospital has hit a roadblock, and may not even happen.

The Marian Group was planning on buying the property from the city, but they have withdrawn their application to purchase.

In an email, a developer for the company tells News 12 " the continuation put us past a strict financing deadline at which time we must have entitlements in place."

It's unclear whether the county has any other interested buyers.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRWD/WAGT) -- For four years, Aiken's old hospital building has sat unused, costing the county and its taxpayers money.

There may finally be a plan in place in the New Year to turn that building into apartments on Aiken's west side but there are some hurdles to clear first.

The county has an agreement in place to sell this building to the Marian Group from Louisville, Kentucky.

But it's what that group wants to build in addition to this that's turning heads.

Laura Bagwell, a member of the West Richland Improvement team says Aiken's west side is teetering.

"We feel it's either on the cusp of something great, something wonderful and beautiful or on the cusp of further, continued decline and deterioration," said Bagwell.

A big part of her group's mission these last couple years has been to help revitalize the old hospital building.

"We'd like to see that area at the top of the hill redeveloped. Redeveloped into a gateway and make it into a real showpiece," said Bagwell.

"The Marian Group is currently producing a couple different concepts for what they want to do with this property," said Gary Bunker, an Aiken County council chair.

Bunker says the Marian Group wants to build apartments, which would include several other buildings in addition to the hospital.

69 units would be in the renovated hospital and the rest will be new. They downsized their plans from six buildings to four after backlash from groups like Bagwell's.

"We live here. We know what we would like to see. We know what we want our future to be," said Bunker.

County Councilman Andrew Siders knows this could be big but says there's a fine line they need to walk.

"I would rather see less concrete, more green space, more high-quality development," said Siders.

Bunker agrees but also points out the economic benefits that around 200 new apartments just blocks from downtown Aiken could bring.

"That's around 300-400 people actually living here. And if you do the math, depending on the population that comes in, that could be very helpful to downtown businesses," said Bunker.

But first, they have to rezone the land.

In order to build apartments, it has to be rezoned to residential through the city since it's on city property.

There's a public planning commission meeting on January 15th. Both Bunker and Siders say if this passes, we could see a final plan by February, and construction before the summer.