Plans for the potential redevelopment of the old Aiken County hospital property and the nearby area have changed considerably. Widespread demolition, though, is still on the table.
According to a Sept. 3 concept plan filed with the City of Aiken, the previously pitched four-floor parking garage along Vaucluse Road is no longer in the picture. The Y-shaped apartment complex drawn in at the back of the hospital parcel has been redesigned and will now comprise 150 units, and an adjacent detention pond has been repositioned.
In place of the parking garage is added surface parking – 195 spots, to be exact. The plans include nearly 600 parking spots total, according to a tally on the concept plan.
The proposed hotel and the attached conference center are seemingly unchanged. One available rendering is labeled "The Hitchcock Hotel." Another, "Hotel Hitchcock."
The concept plan is scheduled to come before the Aiken Planning Commission on Oct. 15, according to staff at the city's planning office. The Planning Commission advises City Council, the body with the final say on the matter.
Earlier this year, and after providing preliminary approval, City Council referred the updated redevelopment plans to the Planning Commission, noting significant changes had been made.
The Planning Commission had recommended approval of the original plans.
"We are extremely, extremely excited about this project," WTC Investments LLC manager Tom Wyatt told the Planning Commission at the time. He added, "We think this is a home run for the community, for the city."
The Aiken County Council in March agreed to sell the old Aiken County hospital property to WTC Investments for $1.1 million. The deal has not yet closed.
The old hospital property – 828 Richland Ave. W., the single largest piece of land in Aiken's downtown district – was at one point home to the county government.
It has sat vacant for years now.
WTC Investments' proposed multimillion-dollar development could have a $240 million economic influence over two decades, according to a city-generated study. City Council at the end of August publicly mulled a partnership with the would-be developer, though that potential agreement is in its infancy.
"I mean, we're still trying to decide what our level of participation would be," Mayor Rick Osbon said at the time.