Originally created 02/25/03

Leader lays out plan for money



AIKEN - Aiken Corp. Chairman Wade Brodie tried Monday night to sell Aiken City Council on the group's plans for $135,000 of city money it wants.

Mr. Brodie told the council in a work session that Aiken Corp., an economic development arm of the city, would invest about $10,000 in a land use study of Chesterfield Street. The road is dotted with vacant lots that Mr. Brodie said the group wanted to fill in with new housing.

About $55,000 would go toward buying land along Chesterfield, and the remaining $70,000 would go toward paying off $10 million that Aiken Corp. borrowed from the city, Mr. Brodie said.

Aiken Corp. borrowed the money to build about 20,000 square feet of office space attached to the city's Washington Center for the Performing Arts theater on Newberry Street downtown. City council members have stipulated that if Aiken Corp. gets the money, some of it would have to go toward loan repayment.

The $135,000 in question is left over from the sale of a house along Chesterfield Street. The house was bought more than two years ago because land it sat on was needed for the theater complex.

The house was used as a construction office, which was sold in November.

Mr. Brodie previously said Aiken Corp. might invest the money in a black history or train museum.

Altogether, Mr. Brodie said, Aiken Corp. has more than $100,000 it could invest in the Chesterfield Street plans announced Monday.

Councilman Dick Smith said he wanted more details. Most of the council, however, appeared supportive of the plan.

"Everything (Aiken Corp.) has touched has been successful," Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said. "I know this will be successful as well."

City Manager Roger LeDuc said Monday night that the Historic Preservation Commission, which has said it wanted the same city funds the Aiken Corp. is vying for, has not applied for the money.

"Greg Smith is gone," Mr. LeDuc said of the group's chairman's resignation. "He was the main (member) behind it."

Aiken Corp.'s plan will be voted on by the council at its March 10 meeting.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803)279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.