County Council names new prospective buyer for old Aiken County Hospital 1

The old Aiken County Hospital is on Richland Avenue West in Aiken.

Aiken County Council has been unsuccessful, so far, in its efforts to sell the old Aiken County Hospital.

But the panel has named a new prospective buyer for the brick building and the 9.33 acres of land surrounding it on Richland Avenue West in Aiken.

The potential purchaser is 828 Richland Avenue Associates LLC, according to the agenda for County Council’s meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Aiken County Government Center.

The sale price is “not less than” $1.15 million.

County Council is scheduled to consider the second reading of an ordinance that would authorize the sale of the old hospital to Richland Avenue Associates and formally end a previous agreement with WTC Investments LLC.

When the panel passed the first reading earlier this month, no new buyer was identified, but County Council Chairman Gary Bunker and County Administrator Clay Killian reported that multiple bids had been received.

Alfred L. “Al” Saad III is involved in Richland Avenue Associates, said Bunker and Chip Limehouse, a commercial real estate broker and a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, in telephone interviews Monday.

Saad is the president of A.L. Saad & Companies, a full-service commercial real estate development firm based in Columbia.

County Council working on another deal to sell old Aiken County Hospital

“This is very good news,” said Limehouse, who represents Saad. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed. There is obviously still a process to go through and work to be done, but I really feel like this gives the purchase forward momentum. Once we are formally selected, we would look forward to working with all the community groups to create a gateway from the Augusta side into Aiken that will benefit the entire community.”

Limehouse described Saad “as a quality developer and a quality individual.

“County Council could not have chosen a better person,” Limehouse added.

Limehouse and Bunker said Charles I. Small also is part of the Richland Avenue Associates venture.

Small is the president and CEO of Diversified Development Inc., another full-service commercial real estate development firm that is based in Columbia.

Both Saad and Small “are talented and have had many, many successful developments, and they’re both almost local because they’re from Columbia,” said Limehouse, a native of Charleston who owns a farm between Aiken and Wagener. “This could be a great opportunity for everyone.”

According to the ordinance, the proposed primary use for the old hospital property is “for the development of housing and/or mixed use, subject to feasibility and receiving all approvals required from the City of Aiken.”

Previously, County Council has made deals to sell the old hospital, which was constructed prior to World War II, to two other buyers, but both fell apart.

In 2018, County Council approved a plan to sell the old hospital for $1.1 million to The Marian Group.

The ordinance’s language included a condition of sale stating that the old hospital must be “retained, renovated and repurposed in a manner that subjects it to real property taxation.”

Early in 2019, The Marian Group withdrew its applications with the City of Aiken to redevelop the property, and its agreement with the county ended.

A “missed financing deadline” was the reason The Marian Group backed out, according to an email sent by James Duffy, a development associate with the Kentucky-based firm, to Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.

Later in 2019, County Council passed another ordinance to sell the old hospital to WTC Investments for $1.1 million.

Tom Wyatt manages WTC. His father, Weldon Wyatt, is a local entrepreneur and developer.

But the deal with WTC collapsed in January of this year.

The “first and foremost” reason “was the timeframe involved in getting the South Carolina Educational Television tower removed from the rear of the site," according to an Aiken County Council news release. "WTC expressed concern that the structure would not be removed within a timeframe acceptable to it.”

Afterward, Limehouse told the Aiken Standard that Saad had made an unsuccessful offer on the old hospital and still wanted to acquire it.

“Good things come to those who wait,” Limehouse said Monday.

Bunker is eager to move forward with the latest agreement to sell the old hospital.

“For the county to continue to own that property is a drain on our resources,” Bunker said. “The sooner we can get it off our books and into something that will be contributing to the tax base, the better it will be for everyone, I think.”

The Saad and Small collaboration “is a reputable organization with a good history of developments and redevelopments,” Bunker added.

The Government Center is at 1930 University Parkway.

County Council will meet in Council Chambers, which is on the third floor of the Government Center.

​Dede Biles is the Aiken County government, business and horse industry reporter for the Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @DBethBiles.