Aiken panel recommends extending historic overlay to include old hospital property

January 5, 2019

The Aiken Design Review Board has recommended extending the Historic Overlay District to include the entire old Aiken County hospital property.

The decision – not unanimous – came Thursday night after a lengthy work session and a public hearing.

The matter had been postponed several times prior. Design Review Board member Lucy Knowles recused herself from the debate and vote. Member Velice Cummings was absent.

The matter now moves to the Planning Commission, an advisory body, which will review the matter and either recommend or not recommend the extension. City Council will have the final say.

The hospital property – a total 9.3 acres located at 828 Richland Ave. W. – is currently the target of a massive refitting and redevelopment effort proposed by the Marian Group, a Kentucky-based firm.

The Marian Group’s plans involve refurbishing and renovating the dilapidated hospital for housing purposes, constructing four new apartment buildings and creating on-site outdoor recreation areas.

In total, 160 apartments are now proposed for the parcel, not the original 213. The Marian Group would still need a housing density waiver, per the city’s zoning rules.

Overall, what’s being pitched is a multi-generational, multi-income development, according to James Duffy, a development associate with the Marian Group.

If the Historic Overlay District is actually stretched to include the hospital property, it will bring with it additional standards and reviews for construction. But it could also open up a pathway to lucrative tax credits.

The Marian Group has not yet purchased the old hospital property; Aiken County still owns it. Duffy last month told the Planning Commission a deal was still being negotiated.

The hospital property, which dates back to the 1930s, was once home to the Aiken County government complex. It has sat vacant for several years now.

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