Downtown infrastructure takes precedent over Reniassance redevelopment and proposed parking deck

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Changes are happening all around Aiken, but not much is happening underneath it.

“Our downtown is our oldest infrastructure,” City Manager John Klimm told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “The city has historically not taken care of their infrastructure so all of us have been pushing very hard for the last 2 years to get to a point where we can actually get some infrastructure fixed.”

The city operates and maintains hundreds of sewer, water and storm lines.

After years of being put on the back burner, it’ll cost more than $30 million dollars to replace hundred of pipes throughout the city.

“It’s been a concern for a lot of the businesses down here. Of course, you know with pluming we have facilities here that people come and use. If there are plumbing issues we are going to feel the burn of that.” Amy Patheja, Co-Manager of Affordables Apparel in Aiken, said.

Patheja says she’s glad to hear city leaders are going to go after the infrastructure before they start revamping the corner of Newberry St. and Richland Ave.

Still, Patheja says she has her doubts about the redevelopment project and the proposed parking garage.

“My concern is for the employees that work downtown,” Patheja told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “When we get off sometimes its dark, it’s late at night. How are we going to be assured of our safety?”

Patheja says Aiken’s historic buildings are a great location for new businesses.

However, if those building are torn down to put up a parking garage, start-ups looking for cheaper rent rate would suffer.

“Well it might in that there’s not going to be as much space and you know as we see space is limited downtown,” said Patheja.

City council will be talking about ways to fund the infrastructure, specifically storm water and sewer projects, at the meeting on Monday, April 24, 2017.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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