AP NEWS

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

February 21, 2019

Aiken County Council unanimously approved an amended ordinance on second reading Tuesday night that would authorize the sale of the old Aiken County Hospital property to WTC LLC.

Also included in the ordinance was a purchase price of $1.1 million.

“My understanding is that Weldon and Tom Wyatt are playing roles in this LLC, which is in the process of being formed,” said County Council Chairman Gary Bunker.

Ordinances require three readings for final passage.

Bunker said a public hearing and the third reading of the ordinance would be scheduled for County Council’s meeting March 5.

Wyatt is a local entrepreneur and Tom is his son.

“Our understanding is that their plan is to build a hotel and a conference center,” Bunker said.

Last June, County Council voted 6-3 to approve the third and final reading of an amended ordinance that authorized the county to sell the old Aiken County Hospital property to the Marian Group of Kentucky for $1.1 million.

Earlier this year, the Marian Group withdrew its applications to the City of Aiken to redevelop the old Aiken County Hospital land, and the company also stopped pursuing its plan to acquire the property from the county.

According to an email sent by James Duffy, a Marian Group development associate, to Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh, the company backed out because of a missed “financing deadline.”

The second reading of the ordinance that County Council considered Tuesday had language in it repealing the ordinance passed last June to sell the old Aiken County Hospital property to the Marian Group.

Before voting on it, County Council unanimously approved an amendment naming WTC LLC as the new prospective buyer for a price of $1.1 million.

County Council discussed the old Aiken County Hospital property during an executive session before Tuesday’s meeting.

“We did have another offer,” Bunker said. “It was similar (to the WTC LLC proposal), but not quite the same.”

The WTC LLC offer, Bunker said, includes an agreement to provide $100,000 in “earnest money.” There also is a 90-day due diligence period.

The ordinance does not require WTC LLC to preserve the old Aiken County Hospital.

“You might recall that when we voted to sell to the Marian Group, we had a provision in the ordinance that they maintain the hospital,” Bunker said. “With this sale (to WTC LLC), we just simply are silent in terms of the future of that facility because, as we learned with the Marian Group, it will really have to be negotiated between the City of Aiken and the developer.”

Bunker gave to the Aiken Standard a copy of a letter from Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon, who expressed his support for WTC LLC’s “vision” for the old Aiken County Hospital property.

“I hope the City of Aiken and Aiken County can collaborate on this project – one that promises to create an exciting and engaging property at a critical gateway to our Downtown,” Osbon wrote in his message to Bunker.

The old Aiken County Hospital stands on a 9.3-acre land parcel on Richland Avenue West in Aiken.

All nine members of County Council were present at Tuesday’s meeting, which was held at the Aiken County Government Center.

In other action, County Council unanimously passed the second reading of an ordinance that would authorize a fee in lieu of tax and incentive agreement between the county and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

Councilman Danny Feagin recused himself from the vote.

According to the ordinance, Kimberly-Clark, which has a mill in Beech Island, is considering making additional investments locally of “at least” $115 million to establish and/or expand “certain facilities.”

County Council also unanimously passed the third and final reading of an ordinance that authorizes the county to accept the conveyance, by deed, of property in Graniteville from the Wyatt Realty Investment Opportunity Fund Ltd.