Town homes, hotel could be built on lower Richland Avenue

Sep. 14—A new hotel could be coming to Aiken after all.

The Aiken Planning Commission voted 5-1 Tuesday evening to recommend the Aiken City Council rezone a property near the intersection of Richland Avenue and Beaufort Street and approve a concept plan for the property that includes a hotel.

Commission Clayton Clarkson voted against recommending approval and Commissioner Pete Messina did not attend the meeting

The 6.94-acre property is located on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Aiken County property tax records indicate Yancy and Rogers LLC bought the property March 22, 2021 from Prothro Rental Properties LLC for $565,000.

Equus Holdings LLC applied for rezoning and concept plan approval.

Yancy and Rogers LLC's registered agent is Ben Le Clerq of Mount Pleasant. The registered agent for Equus Holdings is Karl McMillan of Aiken. Both are South Carolina limited liability companies.

The property is currently zoned the Light Industrial. Equus Holdings asked the city to rezone it to Planned Commercial.

The concept plan calls for the property to be split into three parts.

First, a hotel and a 149-space parking lot would be built on the northeast corner of the property near the Gaston Livery Stable.

The name of the hotel is unknown.

The documentation provided to the Planning Commission shows a Home2Suites but McMillan said this would not be the brand of the hotel. He added the picture of the hotel was for size and scale only.

Planning Director Marya Moultrie told the Planning Commission in a memorandum the hotel would be four stories tall and contain 125 rooms.

Access to the hotel would be via an existing curb cut on Richland Avenue.

The information provided to the Planning Commission also contained comments from Reggie Ebner, who chairs the Friends of the Gaston Livery Stable. His comments centered on making sure the Gaston Livery Stable's historic marker is visible.

The commission recommended city council make its approval contingent upon the developer preserving the line of sight for the marker.

Second, the concept plans call for the construction of 52 townhomes in an L-shaped portion of the property stretching from Beaufort Street behind the hotel to the property's border with an existing home.

The concept plan shows nine townhome buildings. Three buildings next to Beaufort Street would contain four units each. A building across a street to be built would contain six units.

Two buildings along Park Avenue would contain six units each. Another building along Park Avenue would contain seven units. A building across a street to be built would contain six units and another building on that side of the street would contain seven units.

Moultrie added the City Council would have to waive the maximum townhome building size of six townhomes for the two seven-unit buildings.

But McMillan said Tuesday he would revise the plan to lower the number of townhomes in each building. As such, the waiver was removed from the recommendation.

Access to the townhomes would be via a two-way entrance to be built on Park Avenue on the southeastern part of the property and two out-only curb cuts on Beaufort. The two-way entrance will connect to the hotel area.

Third, the northwestern corner of the property would be developed into a retail or mixed-use development.

However, Moultrie said the parking lot and concept plan have not been submitted so this will require city council approval later on.

She added the developer is requesting a waiver to allow five feet to 15 feet plantings along the streets instead of the required 23-25 feet. Moultrie said the developer wants the area to have more of a downtown feel.

The commission recommended approval of this waiver.

Clarkson said he voted against recommending approval as he was concerned about the precedent that would be set if the commission recommended approval with a waiver asked for by the developer because it made development easier.

The Aiken City Council could consider the request at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 25.

After city council approval, the developer will have to receive approval from the Design Review Board for the aesthetics of the property.