City Council shelves Willow Run decision
Aiken City Council unanimously decided Monday to table a proposal to purchase space at Willow Run Industrial Park, delaying the vote to receive feedback from local nonprofits interested in being a part of the project.
The City previously met with the Boys & Girls Club and Aiken Area Council on Aging to discuss possible arrangements to share space in the new facility.
Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce said the vote was postponed because representatives from the Aiken Area Council of Aging were not present during Monday’s meeting.
He added that the organization is a “critical piece” of a proposal to fill the available space and, consequently, recommended Council wait until a later meeting to reach a decision.
The City has expressed interest in purchasing a 30,000 square foot spec building at the industrial park, which has been eyed by several potential investors over the years, but has continued to remain vacant.
The building, owned by Aiken Corp., sits at 440 Beaufort St. N.E., which is near a former landfill that the City plans to convert into a park.
According to a memorandum distributed to Council by Pearce, Aiken Corp. is willing to sell two lots and the spec building for $782,375. The two lots are approximately 12.3 acres combined.
If approved by Council, the building would be used as a Northside recreation facility. Ideas have been tossed around for how to fill the spec building, including uses like a reception area, weight room, programming space and offices, as well as developing practice fields outside.
Council also unanimously agreed to appropriate $15,000 to create a plan to renovate the first floor of the Municipal Building, located on Park Ave.
Council was scheduled Monday to have a first reading of an ordinance advancing $1.4 million in Round III Capital Project Sales Tax funds to start the renovations but instead decided to vote to approve “some background planning” on the project, according to Pearce.
The city manager and finance offices, which were located on the first floor of the building, moved to a refurbished building at 135 Laurens St. Those vacant spaces will be converted into meeting rooms, while the City will also use the opportunity to enhance the old City Hall.
“We want to study it and see what would work in the space,” Pearce said about the proposed planning. “We want to see what would be conducive to the meeting space that folks would want to have available.”