AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) — A proposal to create a commercial and residential promenade that would include substantial improvements to the Newberry Street Festival Center has been approved by three community economic organizations, officials said Monday.
It’s part of the so-called Pascalis project, which would include a regional conference center, parking lots and a hotel taking the place of the decaying Aiken Hotel.
The Aiken Chamber of Commerce, Aiken Corporation and the Aiken Municipal Development Commission are asking Aiken City Council to approve the inclusion of part of the Newberry Street right-of-way in the site plan for the Pascalis project, director of economic development for the city of Aiken, Tim O’Briant said Monday.
“The Festival Center improvements would place a premium on a safe and comfortable pedestrian plaza-like plaza central to the town of Aiken,” said a press release from O’Briant.
In a resolution approved on Monday, the Aiken Municipal Development Commission called on the city council to move forward with the second reading and final approval of the conditional ordinance conveying the required parcel at its next regularly scheduled meeting. April 25.
This action would allow project-related planning, engineering and due diligence to move forward “unhindered by uncertainty,” the resolution says.
In a separate action, the Aiken Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors voted early Monday to also approve the future.
And the Aiken Corporation board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the Pascalis project site plan and improvements to the Newberry Festival Center.
The additional landscaping and public green space will provide space for outdoor dining, activities, events and gatherings, and extend the pedestrian experience created when the driveway was closed to traffic in 2017. The redesigned festival center would accommodate both pedestrians and vehicles due to proposed traffic changes on the islet.
“The leadership of the City of Aiken has the opportunity to create positive and transformational change in the Newberry Street Festival area,” said Aiken Municipal Development Commission Chairman Keith Wood. “The project is expected to create over 150 new jobs and replace surface parking lost along Newberry with structured parking.”
He said it would also bring about 150 new full-time residents downtown to shop and dine daily, creating at least $3.3 million a year in property tax, hospitality and lodging revenue from the downtown area. local government” while retaining the essence and character that has long defined Aiken.
“The 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 these facilities,” it said. he declares.
House Speaker Norm Dunagan said the project would provide something his group has been looking for for some time.
“The Aiken Chamber has been advocating for Aiken’s ‘cool factor’ since the release of the Blue Ribbon Expert Panel report in 2013 and again in 2017 with the Compelling Place to Live report,” he said.
He said both reports recommended bringing more downtown retail, providing more housing in the downtown footprint, and creating areas that encourage citizens to congregate.
“The economic vitality of a community is essential to its quality of life, and this is a giant step in the right direction,” said Dunagan.
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