The loss of two barns and its long-term implications on the City of Aiken remains to be seen.
The impact of Saturday afternoon's fire on the character of the horse district, and what will happen next are among the questions that need to be answered, said Rhett Riviere, owner of the property and barns that are leased by Legacy Stable. But what will be done now that the smoke has cleared? The loss of the barns reduces the training track's inventory of stalls for rent.
Authorities have determined that the fire that damaged the Thoroughbred barns leased by Legacy Stable at the Aiken Training Track on Saturday was caused by an electrical short.
“We lost 30 stalls,” said Riviere, in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “Those barns play an integral role in the success of the Aiken Training Track. Things were just starting to turn around, with more people coming back to train at the facility. The loss of the barns will impact the Training Track.”
However, what type of structure will be rebuilt on the property? The Greentree Stable barns have historical significance, adding to the romance and quaint charm associated with the city, not only from the perspective of the importance of the equine industry, but something that's been woven into the fabric of the community. The symbolism of the Training Track adds to the area's dated and charming personality, something that's uniquely Aiken.
The barns were insured, but at the value of a 70-year-old wood structure, not at the amount of money it would take to replace the stable with a more modern concrete configuration with a shedrow, according to Riviere.
And is it feasible to rebuild the barns? asked Riviere. The property owner is hoping to start a dialogue with the City to see if it's possible to create an equine fund to address the rebuilding of the barns for the greater benefit of the City of Aiken, the community's Thoroughbred industry and the Aiken Training Track itself.
“We need to create awareness on the national level, so in a year, when we're ready again, people will want to come here to make it succeed,” Riviere said.
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.