AP NEWS

Aiken Mall building closed to public, three stores keep doors open

July 29, 2018

The Aiken Mall developer remains confident demolition of the mall will begin near the end of 2018 or the start of 2019.

On Friday, Southeastern Development Associates CEO Vic Mills said the demolition timeline has not changed. He also said the project is far from dead.

“We’re right on target,” Mills said, later adding that tear down won’t happen until a final site plan is finalized and submitted.

Mills announced the 2018-2019 demolition window during a press conference at the Aiken County Government Center in April.

At the time, Mills said full demolition could take “many months.”

Since that last press conference, the mall building, located off Whiskey Road, has been closed to the general public. At least one printed sign on the mall doors states the “Aiken Mall is now closed.”

Mills said it was Southeastern that shuttered the mall, which he called an “empty corridor,” and said it was closed for financial and security reasons.

“That’s us that did it...” Mills said.

Despite the grander closure, several large stores in the mall complex remain open: Books-A-Million, LensCrafters and Belk, for example.

Signs announcing the stores’ continued operation dot the roads and medians near the mall.

Southeastern purchased the Aiken Mall for $3 million in 2016. Southeastern has since promised it will transform the ailing commercial hub into an indoor-outdoor lifestyle, dining and shopping center similar to Shelter Cove Towne Center, a Southeastern-developed sprawl in Hilton Head.

Southeastern, an Augusta-based company, has owned Shelter Cove for about seven years.

Mills said a bowling alley, a movie theater, department stores, restaurants and “other retailers” are still options on the mall redevelopment table.

“Good things are happening,” the CEO said, hinting at the latest round of expressed commercial interest.

In April, Mills said a more defined list of tenants will be available come demolition time.

The City of Aiken is invested in the mall redevelopment: City Council approved spending $1 million to buy land around the mall to be turned into a walking track or green-space exercise area.

The City will be reimbursed, over time, for its purchase, according to City Council documents.

AP RADIO
Update hourly