AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – The city of Aiken’s push to redevelop a block of downtown is moving forward.
On Friday, the city announced 4 developers submitted their proposals for the Renaissance Redevelopment project.
When the project was first announced there was a lot of back lash by people who claimed there was “dirty deals” going on behind closed doors.
However, WJBF NewsChannel 6 obtained the results of a new study that shows many people want to see the upgrades to the city center.
A block of Newberry St. will soon be getting a face lift, but the city’s revitalization proposal didn’t come without some opposition.
In January, a nonprofit organization in Aiken charged forward with a study to get the community’s perspective on the Renaissance Redevelopment Proposal.
“We just felt like there was a lot of negativity that has been surrounded by the new project that are going on in downtown Aiken,” Gene Hart, with Advance Aiken, told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “So we really wanted some hard-core numbers, to be able to look at whether or not there was any support or if all this negativity was truly how our community felt.”
Hart says the study revealed 64 percent of voters, within the City of Aiken, overwhelmingly support the revitalization project.
Advance Aiken surveyed 465 random people through phone calls and they were asked the following three questions:
- Preliminary estimates indicate the city of Aiken’s downtown revitalization plan will create more new jobs and restore the charm and character of downtown Aiken?
- 64.1% Support
- 15.7% No Opinion
- 20.2% Oppose
- Do you believe in the city of Aiken’s leadership is on the right track?
- 55.3% Right Direction
- 29.3% Wrong Direction
- 15.5% Not Sure
- Do you support the city selling public property it does not use?
- 78.5% Yes
- 7.9% No
- 13.7% No Opinion
All of the above questions shows most people favor the city’s initiative.
“When I say surprised I guess we were, not surprised as in wow, but in surprised as in hey look at how much support we have that are not speaking up.” Hart told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
City leader tell WJBF NewsChannel 6’s it’s not very often a block of prime property goes up for sale and they were pleased when 4, both regional and national developers, submitted a R.F.P. to take on the project.
Still, city leaders want to reassure the community no decision have been made.
“We haven’t made a final decision on the parking garage,” City ManagerJohn Klimm said. “We haven’t made a final decision on whether there is going to be an addition to the city hall. The council hasn’t made a decision whether they want to disregard a surplus property or not.”
On Mon., Feb. 13, at the city council meeting leaders will hear a progress report on the initial evaluation of each R.F.P. from each developer.
In the coming months, they will be forming a task force of community members that will be advisers for the Renaissance Redevelopment.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest developments.