More than 1,500 homes planned for Aiken's northside

Jan. 28—Growth isn't just limited to the southside of Aiken anymore.

Seven publicly confirmed projects are slated to bring 1,524 new residences to the city's northside.

Those projects include:

— a 336-unit apartment complex at the intersection of University Lane and the Gregg Highway (the Parker at Aiken Apartments);

— a 330-unit townhome rental community near the intersection of Laurens Street, Rutland Drive and University Parkway (Aiken Village);

— a 316-unit duplex development near the intersection of York Street and Bushwillow Circle;

— 200 homes near the intersection of Williams Lane and Edgefield Highway (River's Crossing);

— 150 homes nearly across from River's Crossing (Portrait Hills);

— 120 homes near the intersection of University Parkway and Vaucluse Road; and

— a 72-unit multifamily development between University Parkway, Lokey Lane and the Gregg Highway.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon said growth on the northside moves the city toward a more traditional method of how cities have grown in the Palmetto State. Most cities, he said, have grown toward the major transportation artery nearby which for Aiken is Interstate 20.

Aiken, however, has grown southward toward its largest employer, the Savannah River Site, and those new subdivisions also brought restaurants and retail.

Osbon said the city has grown about as far south as it can grow.

Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said reasons why undeveloped properties on the southside aren't being developed now include topographical issues and issues accessing water and sewer infrastructure.

Water and sewer access are no longer problems on the northside thanks to city council investments, Osbon added.

Also, many of the new projects are located on flat land adjacent to heavily traveled roads that provide access to major thoroughfares like Interstate 20, U.S. 1, and U.S. 1/78.

Bedenbaugh said commuting patterns have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic and related government-mandated shutdowns; people were able to work from home or more willing to commute longer distances in order to live in an area with the amenities, the lifestyle and cost of living that they want.

Both Osbon and Bedenbaugh added they were hopeful the growth in residences would bring retail and grocery stores to the northside.

KJ's Market at the intersection of York Street, Rutland Drive and the Rudy Mason Parkway is the only grocery store on the northside. And restaurant options on the northside are limited to a few traditional restaurants and some fast-food establishments.

"These rooftops are part of what we hope is a bigger opportunity for the community," Bedenbaugh said. "To where some of the commercial development you see on the southside of town can be developed on the northside of town ... There is no doubt access to those rooftops is what those commercial developers look at."

Aiken City Councilwoman Lessie Price, a Democrat whose district includes part of the northside, said the growth over the next three to five years would be phenomenal. She added the growth would be planned and residents' worries over the lack of a grocery store and places to eat would be taken care of.