AIKEN, South Carolina (WJBF) – Aiken Municipal Development Commission, Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, and the Aiken Corporation endorse a proposal to create a retail and residential promenade that would include substantial upgrades to the Newberry Street Festival Center.

According to the press release, the three primary organizations charged with fostering economic prosperity in our community are calling upon Aiken City Council to approve the inclusion of a portion of Newberry Street right-of-way in what is known as “Project Pascalis” site plan.

The release also adds that the Festival Center improvements would place a premium on a safe and comfortable pedestrian-focused esplanade akin to a central square for the City of Aiken, and the additional landscaping and public greenspace will provide ample space for outdoor dining, activities, events and gathering of all types, and will extend the pedestrian experience so successfully created when The Alley was closed to traffic in 2017.

Officials say that the reimagined Festival Center would accommodate both pedestrians and vehicles well due to proposed modifications to the traffic flow on the block.

“The city of Aiken’s leadership has the opportunity to create positive and transformational change to the Newberry Street Festival Area,” says Aiken Municipal Development Commission Chairman Keith Wood. “The project is expected to create in excess of 150 new jobs and replace lost surface parking along Newberry with structured parking. It will also bring an estimated 150 new full-time residents downtown to shop and dine on a daily basis, creating a minimum estimated increase of $3.3 million annually in local government property, hospitality and accommodations taxes while maintaining the essence and character that has long defined Aiken. Construction of the hotel, apartments and commercial/retail components of the project will inject a minimum of $50 million in private-sector investment from the developers who will own and operate those facilities.”

In a resolution approved today, the Aiken Municipal Development Commission called on City Council to move forward with Second Reading and final approval of the conditional ordinance conveying the required parcel at its next regularly scheduled meeting of April 25, 2022.

Officials say that in so doing, the Council will allow the planning and engineering and due diligence related to the project move ahead unimpeded by uncertainty, the resolution reads. In a separate action, the Aiken Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted early Monday to endorse moving forward as well.

Public input regarding the proposed plans will be sought during a pair of design workshops Wednesday April 20, 2022.

Officials say that during the sessions, project architects and engineers will make presentations and review current design elements and the thought process behind each of them.

Following the presentations, the floor will be opened for public questions and comments.

The first session will take place at 11:30 A.M. and the second at 5:30 P.M, and both sessions will be held in the Municipal Building City Council Chambers located at 214 Park Ave. SW.