Developers Present Concept Plans for New Downtown Aiken Apartments, Parking Garage | Local News

As the parts of the Pascalis project continue to be developed, the concepts of the multi-family apartments and the closed parking garage were displayed on Thursday evening.

The plans were presented to the Aiken Design Review Board in a working session through a variety of tracks, including an elevation map, 3D rendering, and site plans.

Russell Devita, principal at FMK Architects, which is the lead architect for the apartments and parking lot, said the design team walked around downtown Aiken before designing the building.

Devita said they noticed “the rhythms of the openings, the brick work (and) the details”, among other things.

Overall, plans call for a five-story building, located at the corner of Newberry Street and Richland Avenue, with approximately 103 multi-family units. The apartments would wrap around the parking lot, so the garage could not be seen from the street.

The first floor of the building on the Newberry Street side would be reserved for retail businesses. The facade of the CC Johnson Building, which previously housed the Playoff’s Sports Bar, would remain intact and be incorporated into the new building to “preserve character and history”, according to Devita.

The building’s lobby would be located at the corner of Richland Avenue and Bee Lane. The first floor of the building on the Bee Lane side is proposed to be apartments, Devita said.

For apartments, several types are offered, which Devita pointed out: a one-bedroom living/working unit; studios; An apartment with one bedroom; two-bedroom apartments; and two-story, two-bedroom townhouses.

The townhouses would be located near the planned conference center, with third-floor apartments connecting the apartment building to the conference center, according to plans.

Some of the units are said to have balconies, an important feature noted by the designers, as balconies can be seen on many buildings in downtown Aiken.

To enter the car park, drivers could turn into Bee Lane before turning left into the new Pascalis Alley, then turning left into the car park. Alternatively, they could turn left into Pascalis Alley from Newberry Street and turn right into the car park.

Similarly, drivers could exit to the left or right of the garage.

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As for the exterior, Devita said the team tried to use different types of architectural details to add variation and detail.

“We really try to vary the lines to create different levels relative to where the cornices are,” he said.

The team worked to break down the building using different materials and “having recesses in strategic places”.

“We’re trying to create a vertical (rhythm),” Devita said. “What we don’t want is this big monolithic building.”

“We took the challenge of creating a five-story building in downtown Aiken very seriously and worked very hard to divide it from a massing perspective, pay homage to the existing facade by pushing back all that facade 5 feet, and then varying the materials and linking them to the historic details of (of) Aiken and creating a really rich facade,” Devita continued.

Many board members expressed positive feelings about the design, but Lucy Knowles expressed some reservations.

Knowles said she appreciates the desire to have all the elements of the Pascalis project, but she thinks the building’s design is “far too intense for this particular area.”

“I would love to see all of these things in downtown Aiken, but I think we have too many in this space,” she explained.

This is the fourth time members of the development team have met with Aiken’s Design Review Board to present plans and get feedback.

Although the exact date is yet to be determined, there will be a public charette where all components of the Pascalis project will be exhibited, according to Tim O’Briant, Aiken’s Director of Economic Development.

Brandon Graham, vice president of development at Raines, said several of the design professionals involved in the project will be on hand to speak to attendees.

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“The plan is to take all the feedback we get from the board, as well as the public feedback, and incorporate as much as we can, and then come back with the full plan where you can see it all, at once individually and at the same time,” Graham said. “You can see him standing alone and working together.”

As a whole, the Pascalis project is made up of eight parcels in downtown Aiken, bounded by Laurens Street, Richland Avenue and Newberry Street. Of these, seven were purchased by the Aiken Municipal Development Commission for $9.5 million in early November 2021.

The eighth plot is 121 Newberry St. SW, the former home of a State Farm insurance office. This parcel is owned by Aiken Alley Holdings LLC; Ray Massey is listed as a registered agent on the website of South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond.

The Aiken Standard previously reported that Massey was part of a group of local investors involved in the Pascalis project.

The designers will then be in front of the Design Review Board on April 5 for a working session and a regular meeting. Plans for the conference center should be presented during the working session.

David H. Henry