Urban Planning

Major Redevelopment Plans for a Small Town : urbanplanning

Aiken, SC is your typical small southern town with way to much car-dependent sprawl for its size. That being said, its downtown has managed to remain walkable and thriving. Community leaders have recognized this and redesigned one of the smaller downtown streets as a pedestrian only plaza.

Given the success of this redevelopment the city has grown more ambitious and is seeking to redevelop a large portion of downtown. The have dubbed this new plan “Project Pascalis” and involves a combination of demolishing and repurposing several downtown buildings. In their place they are going to build a new upscale hotel (replacing a current derelict one at the same location), a small conference center, and a new mixed use facility that includes over 100 new apartments and a parking garage that will replace on street parking.

To say that the current plan is controversial is putting it mildly. This project will greatly change a downtown landscape that has remained fairly consistent for the last 40 years. One part taht keeps being brought up is the reduction of a major street down to half of its current size allowing for only one-way instead of two way-traffic. Earlier this month a lawsuit was filed with the goal of stopping this plan from moving forward.

Personally, while I’m a bit nervous about seeing many buildings being raised, I think the new plans are going to majorly benefit the town once they are completed. The area has seen major growth over the last few years and this is one of the only projects that doesn’t increase the continuous sprawl seen just outside of town. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the plan and what you think could be done better.

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