It’s unclear when Aiken City Council might revisit its concept plan to renovate the Union Street area, but the concept plan is still a development initiative, according to some Aiken leaders.
Council unanimously approved a Union Street Plan in February 2012 as a guiding point for Council and staff to use for future improvements throughout the area.
The plan details the area surrounding the Aiken Railroad Depot, which services the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum.
The concept plan was developed by consultant group Allees, based in Prosperity, with a collaboration between Arnett Muldrow & Associates and Holland Architects.
The long-term plan included multifamily, office and commercial development, building renovations to vacant Park Avenue buildings and more.
Plans haven’t been touched in some time, but Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said Council still realizes their importance.
“It’s something we certainly want to get done, but unfortunately there aren’t always funds to where you can move forward,” Cavanaugh said. “You can’t move forward on everything. But we do see growth moving in that direction, especially with the new church going in.”
The expansion of St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church on Fairfield Street has many hoping it will be the impetus for development in the area.
“Who knows? With the church going up, could that possibly bring a restaurant or two up there,” Cavanaugh said. “It would be nice to have something there for people getting out of church to go to.”
David Jameson, president of the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce, said the area could turn into a major investment.
“The Aiken Chamber Blue Ribbon panel that functioned in 2013 saw this as one of several key areas with the potential for development,” Jameson said. “The original Union Street Plan suggested a combination of residential, office and retail. I have spoken with several development experts who do not believe the area is ready for retail development, but would be ripe for office and residential development. ... The key will be funding private developments who see the potential of the area and step forward.”
The original plan laid out several goals, including making the Union Street area an “anchor” to downtown by incorporating private sector investment, new living spaces and active space for residents and visitors that included entertainment options.
The concept plan can be found on the City of Aiken’s website at www.cityofaikensc.gov by searching “Union Street plan.”
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard.
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter Aiken City Council passed a Union Street Plan two years ago as a guiding point for Council and staff to use for future improvements throughout the area.×
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter Left – Many Aiken leaders said they hope the final construction of the St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church’s new site, it will create more development along Union Street.×
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter Aiken City Council approved a Union Street Plan in 2012 as a guiding point for Council and staff to use for future improvements throughout the area.×
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter A Union Street Plan was accepted by Aiken City Council in 2012 as a guiding point for Council and staff to use for future improvements throughout the area surrounding the Aiken Train Museum and Visitors Center.×