AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)– New details on a project in Aiken unlike any other in the CSRA. In 2018, parts of the Aiken Mall will come down to make way for a brand new shopping concept.
Right now, the people of Aiken are crossing the bridge into Georgia to finish up last minute Christmas shopping, but according to an Aiken County official, that won’t be the case for long.
“We want to keep all of those folks right here in Aiken County,” Andrew Siders, Aiken County Council Vice Chairman, said.
With a unanimous vote at Aiken County’s last meeting, council members made a decision that has catapulted a $25 million redevelopment. Aiken County is joining the City of Aiken to provide money for Aiken Mall’s redevelopment.
Southeastern Development out of Augusta is heading it all up. NewsChannel 6’s Samantha Williams spoke with Jason Long, Vice President of the company who told us the way people shop is changing.
“We see that everyday in the news with Amazon, and so to attract people to this property, we need to have a reason for people to want to come, stay and shop,” Long explained.
Modeled after a town center in Hilton Head, Southeastern is planning to bring similar features to Aiken in an outdoor, lifestyle center. In addition to retail and dining options, the city plans to buy five acres of land on the edges of the mall to house a public park and walking trail.
Long said everything is still in the planning phase– a vital part of the project is attracting retailers, entertainment and wellness assets.
“Then we are able to plan around them,” Long told us. “We have an idea of what we want to do, but we really need to lock them in to know exactly how it will fit together.”
Belk and Books-A-Million will remain open in the remodeling process.
Councilmen Andrew Siders explained the mall revitalization is just the beginning to growth in Aiken: “People are going to stay right here, and other businesses will see that. It’s going to draw, also, and other businesses will see that and recognize that Aiken County is a great place to do business.”
Aiken City Council will meet twice in January to hold a public forum on the matter. If council members continue to support the deal in those meetings, Long said we we can expect to see construction at anytime in 2018.