Preservation groups hope to save old hospital, other historic buildings during possible sale

CSRA News

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – To save the old Aiken hospital or not to save it that’s the question that will be up for discussion in the coming weeks.

Preservation groups in the area say to keep the building will add to the charm of the area.

“When I look at this building, I look at what it could be with some vision,” Laura Bagwell of the West Richland Improvement Team told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.

A vision could soon be a reality near the downtown Aiken area. City leaders are trying to figure out what to do with the old hospital property after moving into the new government complex.

A plan on the table could bring several options including a hotel and conference center. This option doesn’t save the old historic buildings on the property. 

“It could be mixed-use retail, professional, office, restaurants, coffee shop, art gallery in the bottom floors and in the upper floors, loft-style living for young people it could also be senior living.  Anything’s possible here,” Bagwell added.

Bagwell, Charlotte Widenman, and Mandy Drumming are a part of three separate preservation groups in the Aiken area. They say an adaptive use model at the location would better serve the people Aiken’s trying to attract. 

“Adaptive reuse brings up an important point of being a good environmental steward and then also practicing sustainable development because without adaptive reuse that hulk of a building will end up in a landfill and we want to prevent something like that.  It’s a well-made building,” Widenman said.

The groups have circulated petitions to help save the building built in the 1900s

 “And we easily collected about 570 signatures,” Drumming said.

City leaders say because of its issues it’s time to move on including getting rid of the old and bringing in the new.

“This building is all concrete it’s not an HG TV project. It is impossible. Plus it has mold and mildew and been vacate for five years,” President and CEO of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce J. David Jameson said.

We say that there are examples right here in our community of restoration done sensitively and correctly by people who know what they are doing,” Bagwell said. “They wouldn’t do it unless there was a financial incentive to do it. there is a laundry list of tax credits and incentives and enticements to do historic preservation at this location and others,” she added.

A public hearing is scheduled for March 5. 

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