Dec. 1—The Aiken Municipal Development Commission this week took another step toward the realization of Project Pascalis, an endeavor officials believe will revitalize the downtown shopping-and-dining district.
Commission members on Tuesday authorized their chairman, Keith Wood, to execute a purchase and sale agreement with an as-of-yet-named developer, pending further negotiations and the creation of a redevelopment master plan.
The authorization came after an hour of private discussions at the Municipal Building. The commission met in the same spot a week ago, spending more than an hour behind closed doors to review a potential agreement.
Wood pitched Tuesday's get-together as a follow-up, and Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh described it as a "good meeting."
"We ground a lot of sausage," Bedenbaugh said.
Officials expect a deal will be finalized in the coming days. More information about the project and the developer would then be made public.
While Project Pascalis is very much in its infancy, the action taken by the Aiken Municipal Development Commission on Tuesday is a sign things are moving forward.
The commission earlier this month approved spending $9.5 million to buy seven downtown parcels: Hotel Aiken and the neighboring motel, the former Playoffs Sports Bar, Warneke Cleaners, Newberry Hall and businesses along Laurens Street and Richland Avenue.
The development commission envisions a new hotel, apartments, a conference center and a parking garage within the 2-acre swath, which is bounded by Richland Avenue, a major artery. Existing buildings — Hotel Aiken, namely — will need demolishing.
"The Alley improvements four years ago really have done a lot for downtown," Tim O'Briant, the city's economic development director, explained in a previous interview. "We wanted to be able to extend that and have the ripple effects move out."