Group opposes current plans for Project Pascalis becoming more visible

June 26 – The Do It Right Alliance leads its campaign to change proposed plans for Project Pascalis on the streets of Aiken.

A group of Do It Right Alliance members gathered at Vampire Penguin on Friday afternoon to support the business after owner Jeannette Moseley posted in the Do It Right Facebook group that her business faces an uncertain future.

The group has also recently started selling garden signs advocating for the project to be stopped.

The Pascalis Project is the name of a proposed plan to redevelop the block surrounded by Laurens Street, Richland Avenue, Newberry Street and Park Avenue.

The proposed plan calls for the demolition of the old Aiken Hotel and adjoining buildings on Laurens Street and their replacement with a 100-bedroom hotel.

Vampire Penguin is located in one of the buildings next to the hotel that would be knocked down.

Several buildings on the corner of Newberry Street and Richland Avenue would be demolished and replaced with an apartment complex and parking garage. The city’s old municipal building would be expanded to become a conference center.

The Do It Right Alliance is a group of local citizens who disagree with the city’s current plans.

Organizer Luis Rinaldini previously said the Do It Right Alliance plans to take legal action against the city because the group believes the city violated SC state law and its own ordinances.

Moseley said there was nothing wrong with the three buildings next to the hotel.

“We run three successful businesses out of them, but they also want to tear them down,” she said. “You all, I love my store. I don’t want to move. We have no reason to move. And honestly, we have nowhere to go downtown.”

She said the proposed new development would not be an option for Vampire Penguin because the rent would be too expensive.

Moseley declined to comment on future locations when reached Friday afternoon. She said her lawyer advised her not to comment.

Moseley also accused the city of not being honest about the condition of the hotel and of trying to force Vampire Penguin and other small businesses out of downtown.

She added that she would let her followers know in the coming weeks what was really going on.

The latest effort of the alliance is the design, purchase, sale and installation of 140 signs advocating the end of the project.

Lisa Smith organized the signaling effort for the alliance.

She said she started working on the Pascalis project when she and her husband were downtown and saw signs on some of the buildings that would be demolished if the project went ahead.

Smith said she went straight to City Hall and received more information about the project from Aiken’s director of economic development, Tim O’Briant.

“Tim was really polite,” Smith continued. “He said he had a meeting to go to, and I can’t speak to you right now. But he did. He sat with us for 20 or 25 minutes, and he explained the project and some of the background on the project.”

Smith criticized the city’s process regarding the project and said she thought the city was going to make the wrong decision because of the wrong process. She said the city should break the project up into smaller pieces.

She said she attended the first meeting of the Do It Right Alliance and volunteered to work on the panels.

“Lucy [Knowles] said we needed signage, and I said I’ll do it for you,” Smith said.

She then created a design and worked with a local print shop to critique the designs.

Smith said she ordered 60 panels but they were all sold out. She said another 80 have been ordered. Smith added that Ulla Ringle paid the initial money for the panels. The alliance plans to reimburse Ringle when it sells the signs, she said.

The signs cost $10 and can be ordered by messaging the Do It Right Facebook group.

Aiken Standard reporter Bill Bengtson also contributed to this story.

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