AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s been a long time since anyone spent the night at Hotel Aiken. Many people are telling city leaders they are unhappy with its current state and leaders say they are listening.
“It was kind of the everyman’s hotel in Aiken at the time when we had a lot of resorts and things like that,” explained Ryan Bland, Director of the Planning Department.
An Aiken business and property owner wrote a letter to the city’s Planning Department expressing her concerns about the conditions of Hotel Aiken.
At a work session Tuesday, the Design Review Board, a historic preservation committee, asked for updates from the owner.
“They did do the most important things at first in terms of investigating the stability of the interior, of the footings. And you have to go through the basement and really remove part of the first floor, which I understand they’ve done. So everything they were doing was kind of invisible,” said McDonald Law, Chair of the Design Review Board.
Bland added, “There are portions that have walls that have been exposed to kind of figure out how it’s structurally put together. Chassis, foundations, and things like that. So it’s in a partial state of interior demo but a lot of the interior remains the same. All the rooms are in the same configuration.”
During the work session, board members reviewed the procedure “demolition by neglect.” It’s a step to potentially prevent the demolition of a historic structure and to ensure the structure is maintained.
“We don’t really have authority to make people maintain their buildings beyond making sure the roof is in good shape and the roof is and the roof hasn’t failed. That would put it in the category of demolition by neglect. If the structure was in danger of collapsing let’s say, in my opinion, it’s nowhere near that but it looks bad and I think that’s what we were hearing tonight,” said Law.
The board decided they need more information with a formal report from the owner in order to make a decision. The owner declined our request for an interview.
Law added, “We’re trying to emphasize to the owner that these are things that are really more cosmetic but they would go a long way to showing the community that this is a viable project.”
There’s no set date when Hotel Aiken will be transformed into a boutique Courtyard by Marriott hotel. The Design Review Board will continue their discussion about Hotel Aiken at their next work session on September 1.
The board hopes to get the formal plans for Hotel Aiken from ownership in 60 or so days and for a letter of intention at their next work session.