The Aiken Municipal Development Commission recently hosted talking sessions with the prospective lead development group behind Project Pascalis.
Over the course of two days, a total of 57 people attended five sessions, billed as a conversation with Grey Raines, managing partner with Raines Co.
In December, the AMDC announced it was moving forward with a team known as RPM Development Partners LLC – led by Raines Development of Florence and featuring Lat Purser & Associates of Charlotte – to make Project Pascalis a reality.
"We presented it as a conversation with Grey Raines, where Grey could introduce himself, talk about his development philosophy, refer to a few projects that he had done, what some obstacles were and how he had overcome them, things that had worked smoothly," said J. David Jameson, a commission member and head of the Aiken Chamber of Commerce, during the Tuesday meeting.
While there may not be any concrete plans or renderings yet, Jameson said "people just appreciated the fact that they got to look into the eyes of the person that may become the master developer of this project. We got to see him early on and understand his philosophies."
Other commission members described the conversations they had as candid and authentic.
Tim O'Briant, the commission's executive director, noted that it was important to have people from different walks of life and with "all kinds of different thought processes" involved in these meetings.
During the time Raines and associates were in town, they came before the Design Review Board, a panel tasked with preserving and elevating Aiken's historic features. Those involved will need to work with the board throughout the project, as it has jurisdiction over some of the involved areas.
Negotiations are ongoing in relation to the project. Currently, Raines is expected to build and operate, at its own expense, the proposed hotel. On the other side, Lat Purser & Associates is expected to build and operate the residential and mixed-use portion of the project.
Together, they are expected to build the conference center and garage, which will be purchased by the city upon completion.
"Raines Co. and all of (its) collaborative partners are very serious about this project," said Jameson. "You can just feel that."