AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Hotel Aiken and the old Johnson Pharmacy would have been demolished if Project Pascals moved forward. Now that the project has failed, the Design Review Board is meeting to figure out if the owner, Aiken Municipal Development Commission, is doing enough to maintain the buildings. “It’s a detriment to the whole area, the downtown, the neighbors, the businesses around it,” Martin Buckley told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.
The meeting is being held at the request of several, including architect, Martin Buckley. The review board will take 45 minutes of public testimony.
“Broken windows cracks,” Robert Raimondi said about the buildings. “It looked like it needs some repairs, some upgrades to make it more appealing,” Shemeka Anderson added.
“Beginning of this year, I petitioned that they consider this again. And it has taken about nine months to get to them, even to talk about it,” Buckley recalled.
City zoning law requires property owners in historic districts to maintain their properties’ interiors and exteriors. The structure must not be deteriorated or pose a safety risk.
“I do feel like the building is in way is dilapidated and in bad condition,” Manager of Aiken Antique Mall Gaye Cain shared. “I understand that the City bought it with the intention of tearing it down, but now that they’ve got it, they should obey their own regulations and maintain it properly,” Buckley added.
Property owners are given a “reasonable” timeline to fix the problem if their buildings are deemed neglected. The board can vote on “demolition by neglect” for public safety if they don’t. Until the issues are resolved, each day is a violation, with penalties. “The hotel has been allowed to deteriorate even further since the city has owned it. And the remedy for demolition by neglect is to fix it up,” Buckley said.
No word yet if any action was taken at Thursday night’s meeting.
Count on NewsChannel 6 to update this story once we learn the details.