Aiken City staff took a tour of the Laurens Street building they will be re-locating in the coming months.

Staff members from the Finance Department and the City Manager’s office familiarized themselves with the building, which was still undergoing renovations on Friday afternoon.

The 12,300-square-foot, three-story building, located at 135 Laurens St. S.W. on the corner of Hayne Avenue, is part of the City of Aiken’s expansion project and City Manager Richard Pearce said he hopes the two departments can move in by the end of the year. Pearce added that the project is running smoothly and within budget.

Renovations completed so far includes the removal of all asbestos, replacement of all the windows, the preliminary work on new heating and air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical and security systems, installation of sheetrock, construction of public restrooms on the main floor and an elevator upgrade to meet current code, according to Pearce.

A drive-through for payments has also been completed.

Next, the data and phone lines will be installed and green infrastructure will be put in place in the back parking lot to further prevent stormwater from going into Hitchcock Woods, Pearce said.

Wallpaper, carpet and the payment counter installation also need to be completed along with any other carpentry work and paving.

“We are happy to be able to offer even better customer service opportunities to our citizens, a face-to-face drive through and night drop that will be accessible from a car,” Pearce said. “We are also happy to be finding a productive use for a building that sat vacant for so many years. We will have additional storage space, more office space and an active corner again in our historic downtown.”

Joseph M. Walker Construction Managers is leading the endeavor, and Nandina is handling the interior design.

The building last housed First Citizen’s Bank and had sat empty for several years before the city purchased it at $750,000. An inspection from last year showed approximately $693,000 worth of improvements were needed. Council approved to advance a total of $1.5 million from the city’s reserve account in December to purchase the building and make renovations, which are all covered under Capital Project Sales Tax funds.

The initial plan for the city expansion was to increase city operations by 50 percent, constructing an 18,000-square-foot, two-story building with an entrance either on Newberry Street or The Alley. The city purchased 0.2117 acres near the municipal building for a little over $930,000 in 2008.

Once the City Manager’s office and Finance Department move, the first floor of City Hall, located on Park Avenue, will be converted into meeting spaces for public use.