Mayor details big plans for Aiken's downtown

Mayor details big plans for Aiken's downtown

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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 News 12 First at Five

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) — It’s already the main attraction for Aiken…but things won’t stop there.

“It’s a new day in Aiken,” Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon said.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon revealed new business initiatives to get the ball rolling for new growth and business downtown.

“Appointing a business task force that will review city policies and make recommendations to council on how to streamline that can become burdensome and roadblocks to businesses,” Osbon said.

Osbon says they expect a blueprint from the business task force within 90 days. Business owners downtown like Van Smith say initiatives like this will help build on the success the city has already seen.

“The health of downtown is good, but it can always be better,” Smith said, co-owner of Lionel and Smith.

Not only better, but bigger. Right now Aiken’s downtown is only a couple streets wide, when it could stretch another five blocks or more down to the Train Depot off of Union Street based on a 2012 Union Street plan to expand downtown.

“We’re not just Laurens Street,” Smith said, “I am on Laurens Street and I’m glad to be on Laurens Street, but I do want people to go down Park Avenue, I want people to go down Chesterfield.”

Part of an expanding downtown is more living space, from new apartments to homes that are affordable.

“You’re seeing younger people move to a downtown area more now and I think that’s very important if you want growth,” Smith said.

It’s not just about new business coming to town, but mentoring new minority business leaders through another initiative announced today.

“We’re identifying people in the community that can come together with us, we want to see and help foster small and minority businesses to help work on things,” Aiken Business Vitality Manager John McMichael said.

Things that will create a better business climate to be the driving force for the downtown growth.

Also mentioned by Osbon was Bruce’s Field as an economic driving force with more events coming to the city.

They are also pulling out a Powderhouse Rd. study along with Dougherty Rd. to help reduce traffic by 23 percent on Whiskey Rd. And a new program with SCE&G will put power lines underground, starting with S. Boundary to preserve the legendary trees.

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Source: News