The City Manager’s Citizens Advisory Team (CAT) has announced dates for two public meetings to discuss design and allowable use questions related to proposed redevelopment in Downtown Aiken. The meetings will be held March 21 and April 5.

The CAT has been selected to advise Aiken City Manager John Klimm during negotiations related to a proposed project that would develop housing, retail, office space, and a potential parking garage in downtown’s historic core. A major focus of the plan is consolidating City of Aiken services by expanding the Municipal Building on Park Avenue. Doing so would allow the City to dispose of potentially surplus property, the present Administration and Finance Building at 135 Laurens St. SW, and see it converted to a mixture of retail and housing.

CAT members are Kristyne Shelton, Philip Windsor, Larry Comegys, Wilber Lane, Jane Page Thompson, Larry Ogletree, Jason Rabun, Tim Simmons, Jenne Stoker, Bob Alexander, Sam Erb, Barbara Stafford, Gene Hart, Julie Whitesell and Elliott Levy. The group is charged with providing input on matters related to the design of the buildings involved in the proposed project and allowable uses in those structures.

The meetings will be held in City Council Chambers at the Municipal Building, 214 Park Ave. SW., and will be facilitated by The Boudreaux Group architectural firm. They will proceed as follows:

Part I: March 21, 2017
3:30 – 4:30
Introductions and icebreakers – What are you most excited about? Most concerned about?
Instructions for photo walk
4:30-5:30
Downtown walk during which advisory members utilize cell phones to photograph elements of downtown architecture and streetscapes that they believe make Aiken unique and contribute to its character and look
5:30-6:00
Advisory Members check back in with Boudreaux Team, select their 15 favorite photos and upload them to Boudreaux laptops

Part II: April 5, 2017
11:30 – 12:30
Aiken look presentation through the photographs taken by the Advisory Team; Boudreaux analysis of themes, patterns and elements that distinguish Aiken; discussion
12:30 – 1:00
Visual preference activity – Boudreaux will bring boards with a series of case study images of downtown parking decks; Advisory Team members will be given stickers that they can use to vote on the images that they feel are most appropriate to what they would like to see in their downtown; Boudreaux team will interact and observe to hear the dialogue about what is liked and disliked
1:00 – 2:00
Facilitated discussion – based on the above two exercises and its own analysis, The Boudreaux Group team will share what it is hearing defines the “Aiken Look” and build consensus around definition, key elements and guiding principles that will inform the design process when it begins.
In the process so far, four well-known developers submitted proposals in answer to the City’s December 2016 request for Proposals. They were Carbon Properties of Charlotte; RAL Development Services of New York; Southeastern Development Associates of neighboring Augusta; and WW-TW Enterprises of Graniteville.

City procurement staff last month ranked the proposals from the most advantageous to the least. First is Carbon Properties; second is Southeastern Development Associates; third is WW-TWT Enterprises; and fourth is RAL Development Services.

Every developer is under consideration, but the hierarchy establishes the first company the City will approach for discussion. In this case, if an agreement cannot be reached with Carbon Properties, number one on the list, discussions will move to the second-ranked firm, and so on. The Boudreaux Group is a member of the Carbon Properties development team.