AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)– With a unanimous vote, Aiken County Council approved the final steps to start rebuilding the Aiken Mall– a $25 million redevelopment.

“We are talking brand new situations in Aiken County that will make us one step closer to having all of our goods and services here so you don’t have to leave,” Andrew Siders, Vice Chairman of Aiken County Council, said.

Siders explained the project, headed up by Southeastern Development, is a multi-park situation, similar to a TIF: “The taxes will be frozen for a certain amount of time, and then over time they will repay those. At a certain point, they will go back to full taxation.”

I asked him what is next for the developers: “I am sure they are talking to stores as it is now,” Siders answered. “They are in the process of talking to people and gathering interest.”

Belk and Books-A-Million will remain open during the process.

Modeled after a town center in Hilton Head, Southeastern is planning to bring similar features to Aiken in an outdoor, lifestyle center.

“With open spaces and a lot of great shopping, more of an entertainment are and possibly a hotel,” Siders told NewsChannel 6.

Just last month the City of Aiken bought 5 acres of land on the edges of the mall to house a public park and walking trail.

I asked Siders when we may expect to see changes in the mall: “Not exactly when it will be finished, but it will be starting soon.”