AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) - Developers are thinking outside the big-box retailer when it comes to the Aiken Mall revitalization.
Friday marked a critical step in the $25 million dollar investment. Aiken County Chairman Gary Bunker, City of Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon and Southeastern Development Chief Executive Officer Vic Mills sealed the deal on the Mall redevelopment with the stroke three pens.
"I'm hopeful that this project will help lure shoppers back to this side of the river," Bunker said. "Over many years, we've lost a lot of the high-end upscale shoppers to the other side of the river."
The community leaders want to see a packed parking lot again, which translates to roughly a million dollars in property and sales tax revenue once the project is complete.
"This is a capital investment that could well exceed $50 million dollars," Osbon said.
Mills says Aiken has the ingredients for a successful outdoor-style shopping center, much like Shelter Cove in Hilton Head. Southeastern developers hopes to keep current retailers, have new retailers will open locations at the mall, but keeping things local is really the goal.
"Our preference is to have more original, locally-owned restaurants." Mill said.
Plenty of places to shop and eat, but the lifestyle center wouldn't be complete without entertainment. Mills hinted the mall cinemas will be part of the experience, in addition to a park and amphitheater.
"Even more than keeping the dollars on this side of the river, it gives our citizens a place where they can go to, they can gather," said Osbon.
The outdoor mall will be built in phases. Demolition of the building will take place towards the end of the year.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.
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