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Aiken Renaissance options allowed to expire

March 29, 2017 GMT

Carbon Properties is picking up where the City of Aiken left off.

The second of two option agreements integral to the Aiken Renaissance downtown redevelopment project was allowed to expire Tuesday, concluding the City’s direct involvement with private property owners.

Now Carbon Properties, a Charlotte, North Carolina, firm working as the City’s preferred developer in the Renaissance, will continue negotiations with property owners, said Aiken spokesman Tim O’Briant.

“This is exactly where we wanted to be at this point,” O’Briant said.

An option obtained for four properties owned by the Anderson family in the vicinity of Richland Avenue and Newberry Street was slated to expire March 28.

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A second option with the Shah family for the Holley House hotel annex on Richland Avenue expired March 14.

Signed in March 2016 and amended in September, the Anderson option specifically concerned parcels occupied by Newberry Hall, Warneke Cleaners, Playoff’s Sports Bar and a vacant lot.

The City paid $5,000 to the Andersons in exchange for the parcels remaining off the market.

In rolling out the Renaissance in September 2016, Aiken City Manager John Klimm said the options, also referred to as landbanking, would give the City a greater say in how those parcels are developed.

“It allows us an opportunity to identify who the developer is,” Klimm said in a November 2016 interview with the Aiken Standard. “We’ve put citizens in the driver’s seat.”

Now that a developer is identified and independently negotiating with private property owners, the City opted to let the options expire.

“While the options have expired, we’re really several weeks into the next phase,” of the Renaissance, O’Briant said. “The options really served their intention very well.”

O’Briant added that the City is continuing to conduct parallel negotiations with Carbon Properties concerning how the Renaissance will be carried out.

A Citizens Advisory Team, or CAT, which formed recently to provide citizen input on the Renaissance, held its first meeting March 20. A second meeting is scheduled for April 5.

On April 12, the City will unveil various parking facility proposals during a public forum at the Aiken Municipal Building.

Though a parking facility has been discussed for years, City officials in September announced the structure may be included as part of the Renaissance.

In announcing the April 12 meeting, the City said there are now six proposed sites for a parking garage. These proposed sites will be announced at the meeting.

The Aiken Renaissance also calls for transforming the City Services building on Laurens Street into a hybrid of residential and retail.

Aiken has additional plans to expand the Municipal Building on Park Avenue, which also would include a retail component on the bottom floor.