The Aiken City Council will continue the discussion of building a proposed downtown parking garage, more specifically whether to build it concurrently with the renovation of the former Regions Bank building or not.

During City Council's Monday night work session, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon asked the city manager to gather more information on the design and budget for a parking garage next to the former Regions Bank building on Chesterfield Street – the city's future consolidated headquarters – stating it "would make more sense to build the garage" concurrently with the renovation of the building. 

"It doesn't make sense to build a (parking garage) as we're getting ready to move into (the Regions Bank building) and not have a place for our staff to park," Osbon said after City Council's regular meeting. "I'd rather see it happen while we're doing renovations."

During the work session, Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh presented council members with a rough cost estimate of the parking garage project from SE Palmetto LLC, the developer of the Regions Bank renovation project.  

The developer is roughly estimating the cost of building a parking garage to be $23,000 per space, though Bedenbaugh told council members he expects the amount to go down.

"The $15,000 to $20,000 is kind of the rule of thumb," Bedenbaugh said. "I told (SE Palmetto LLC) that's higher than what we thought."

The total for the entire parking garage project is currently estimated around $4 million, with the structure not exceeding 55 feet in height and containing 150 to 200 parking spaces.

Bedenbaugh said he would be communicating with SE Palmetto LLC for a more exact budget later this week to present to council members at a later meeting.

"If we build a parking garage, we'd want to build it to account for growth," Bedenbaugh said. 

All members of the City Council were present for the work session and regular meeting, with the exception of Lessie Price, council member for District 2.

At the Feb. 10 meeting, City Council members voted to enter into an agreement with SE Palmetto LLC to allow the company to assist the city in the development of a parking garage on the parking lot property adjacent to the former Regions Bank building. 

The location of the garage would be on two parcels of land – platted as 123 Chesterfield St. S. and 129 Chesterfield St. S. – which are currently owned by SE Palmetto LLC.

As part of the agreement, the city may either build the garage at the same time as the renovations of the old Regions Bank building or wait to construct it when the parking lot of the building is reverted at no cost to the city upon the city's purchase of the renovated Regions Bank building after renovations have been completed.

The possibility of adding more surface parking at the St. John's Methodist Church, which was discussed at the Feb. 10 meeting, was not brought up during the meeting Monday night.  

At the request of St. John's United Methodist Church, City Council members discussed a request to add around 40 angled parking spots in the northbound lane on the 100 block of Newberry Street N.W. These parking spaces also would increase surface parking options downtown that a parking garage may not, as well as reduce the size of the suggested parking garage downtown, Bedenbaugh said.

Bedenbaugh said that he is currently "fine-tuning" numbers on the surface parking option to present to council along with the budget for the garage at a later meeting.

Other items addressed at the meeting included unanimous votes for approval on second readings for multiple items, including the prioritization of Capital Project Sales Tax IV, rescinding the balance of the Aiken Corporation Consolidated Loan with the City of Aiken, and the approval of recommendations Tax Committee for Allocation of Funds from the 2020-2021 cycle, which appropriates funds for various events in Aiken.