AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s been more than 6 months since the city of Aiken announced plans to revitalize the shopping center and the developer is still recruiting new businesses to the area.
The developer says they have already received verbal agreements from several retailers and restaurants about moving into the new facility. However, revamping the Aiken Mall is taking Southeastern Development Associates a little longer than they anticipated.
Southeastern Development Associates Vice President, Jason Long says his team has been working behind the scenes to attract new tenants since June.
Long told WJBF NewsChannel 6 two of the current tenants will be staying at the mall.
The once vibrant Aiken Mall has been on the decline for sometime.
An empty parking lot, boarded doors and graffiti on the walls are all signs that if something isn’t done soon the shopping center won’t be around much longer.
Long says the revitalization process is slowly coming together. His team is working on signing deals with 3 to 4 big-box retailers, that will set the tone for the rest of the shops and restaurants that will be part of the mix-use facility.
The new shopping center will take after Shelter Cove in Hilton Head, but Long says the renderings won’t be available until after retailers sign contracts.
“These plans change all the time and it really is dependent on the large anchors that we attract,” he told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Then we will adapt the plan to work around those large users and the large outdoor space that we are planning.”
WJBF NewsChannel 6 has learned that Books-A-Million and Belk will remain at the mall.
Long says Belk will stay open during the renovation process.
“Are you going to be tearing down the mall and rebuilding?” Asked WJBF NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.
“It will be a combination of both. If we can reuse some buildings and make that work we absolutely will, but a lot of the mall will come down and be demolished,” Long said.
Still, he says the concept is very unique to Aiken and finding businesses that complement the demographics in the area is the biggest challenge.
“We want a true lifestyle center where we will have retail,” said Long. “Like an entertainment aspect, and some service use as well.”
Once the big-box retailers sign contracts, Long says they will be releasing the design of the facility.
He’s hopeful it will happen sometime next year.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.