One of the best spots in Aiken to grab a bite to eat, get a drink and hang out outside will soon be a little more colorful.
City council will spend $25,000 from their hospitality tax to transform The Alley and other spots in downtown Aiken.
Greg Flach has lived in Aiken for 30 years. He had family visiting from out of town so he brought them to one of his favorite spots, The Alley in downtown Aiken.
“With the paving bricks and it’s just a pedestrian travel way now, it improves the ambiance,” Flach says.
The Aiken Downtown Development Association’s Executive Director, Haley Knight, says the pedestrian travel is what prompted the improvements.
“We see a lot more pedestrians through that area then we ever have. First of all, we want to make sure that it’s really safe for these pedestrians and then we want to make it an attraction,” Knight says.
Knight explains that more lighting promotes safety, more trashcans keep that ambiance Flach talked about, and murals on building walls like this the one behind Cindy’s Sweet Shoppe will take the destination to the next level.
“We have local artist Betsy Wilson-Mahoney on board. She is who we’ve decided to really help us with the art side of the project. She has worked with our design committee to come up with a plan. Wvery building will have a different look, but it will all be pertaining to Aiken and our history,” Knight describes.
Knight points out that the $25,000 is coming from the hospitality tax.
“[Council] actually [was] able to save a little money on the storm water project and so that money that had already been budgeted is just being relocated towards this project,” Knight says.
$15,000 will go towards The Alley and the remaining $10,000 will be divided between 2 other projects.
First, crews will shape up the median area in between the finance building and Lionel Smith.
“They’re going to be updating the trees, the lighting, the shrubbery, the benches and just enhancing that area because it’s been a little overgrown,” Knight says.
Finally, they will transform the area in front of the municipal building to give it a more “garden feel.”
“Anything that we can do to expand what we have here in the alley and expand it to the surrounding blocks, I’m all for that,” Flach says.
Some of the work has already started. Their goal is to have as much finished as possible before Masters week.