Development commission approves downtown Aiken property purchase for a big redevelopment project

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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – A multi-million-dollar redevelopment project could prove to be a big spark for the city.
NewsChannel 6’s Wes Cooper has the story.

David Jameson serves as the secretary and treasurer of the Aiken Municipal Development Commission. He said, “We’re ready to move.”

Hotel Aiken is set to get an extensive makeover.

“It’s going to be the new face of Aiken that’s why it’s so important,” said Jameson.

Tuesday, development commissioners approved resolutions to get the ball rolling on Project Pascalis. They are buying seven parcels of land downtown for about $9.5 million.

Development Commission Chairman Keith Wood explained, “Resolutions for us to receive the money that’s coming in from the bond issuance from the City of Aiken. Also, get the ordinance passed for the Aiken Chamber of Commerce to help us in a general spot and then most importantly enable us to acquire the property downtown.”

Urban planner Joe Minicozzi showed commissioners how a new development could dramatically transform the city’s revenues.

He said, “People oftentimes misconstrue new development as positive growth. So they’ll go out to the suburbs and see a new strip mall that comes in and it’s like, ‘okay this is new it’s got to be better.’ But what you see in the model is that these little buildings that have been here for 100 years are way more productive than any of that new stuff.”

Along with renovating Hotel Aiken, development commissioners want to build a parking garage, mixed-use housing, as well as a conference center to compliment the hotel. The conference center would mostly be used for weddings and similar events.

“After we finish our negotiations and officially select the developer, the developer has to hire engineers and architects to develop those plans and bring them back to us for approval. And then we’ll all march forward together,” said Jameson.

According to Wood, they estimate their investment will be $75 to $100 million in total and the return over a ten-year period could be about $33 million to the city.

Wood added, “We’ve received enormous positive feedback from the community, from colleagues, from our friends and local residents here that believe this is the right move and are happy we’re taking a gigantic step for our downtown.”


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