Over the last two decades, Savannah has woken from its slumber and is rising as a destination for tourists and transplants alike. In 2018 and 2019 alone it has been named one of The South’s Best Food Cities by Southern Living, one of The Best 15 Cities in the United States by Travel + Leisure, and one of The 10 Coolest U.S. Cities to Visit by Forbes.
With 14 million tourists contributing $3 billion to our local economy annually, it shouldn’t be surprising that private enterprise has responded with a plethora of developments to satisfy this city’s growing thirst for more southern charm. While that list is quite lengthy and totals well over $1 billion in total costs, I’ve decided to mention a few stand-outs that are worthy of attention.
This is Savannah’s largest current development and the biggest the city has seen in almost three centuries. It’s situated along the Savannah River at the far eastern end of downtown on a 54-acre parcel of land that was formerly used for oil and natural gas storage and some maritime trade.
Finally, after more than ten years of trying, developers have been given the green light to erect a 5-story apartment building with over 300 units, a 190+ room hotel, 80,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space, 154 townhomes, 1,800 parking spaces, 2 acres of public park, and an extension of the river walk which will link it to the center of downtown’s River Street.
On 4.5 acres of downtown Savannah’s western waterfront, a century-old coal power plant is getting a makeover the likes of which the city has never seen. This development is spread across five themed buildings, joins seamlessly with the existing river walk, and will include a 419 room luxury hotel, 17,000 square feet of event space, a 400+ seat live performance venue, dozens of restaurants, a beer garden, spa & fitness center, specialty retail, a 1.5-acre public park with splash pad, almost 500 parking spaces, and a museum.
Of course, if there’s going to be development in historic downtown, then why not in the Starland district? Positioning itself as Savannah’s less touristy and hipper alternative, the Bull Street corridor is bursting with entertainment. What Starland Village has in store for the community in 2020 is an amazing urban development that combines available studio spaces, one and two-bedroom apartment units, off-street parking, a fitness center, onsite bike valet for residents, a community park, and a 7,500 sqft event space with more than 600 seats.
Smaller in scale than those projects previously mentioned, Starland Yard repurposes shipping containers to create a community gathering place where adults and kids can enjoy a slice of pizza, a game of cornhole or bocce ball, and a beer (well… not the kids). A rotating menu is realized not by a head chef who changes the specials every day, but by the three or four curated food trucks that park at the front of the square and take walk-up orders. Grab a bite, a drink, and a table.
Yes, Savannah’s current convention center isn’t the huge draw that most nationally touring acts seek to add to their itinerary; due in part to its location and limited infrastructure. Over the past few years, the city has proposed and approved plans to develop a large parcel of land along Springfield Canal. Funded by SPLOST and a rental vehicle tax, this $120 million project will create a 10,000 seat arena and space for ancillary businesses (think food, beverage, retail, office). This one really divides the room and has faced budgeting difficulties. Still, the ground is set to be broken in September 2019.
They say it’s cooler in Pooler, but some developers would argue that it’s really heating up (get it?). This 160-acre development will include a big-box grocery store, several anchor retail stores, office space, apartments, hotels, parks, lakes, and parking for all. This development will serve the needs of Pooler residents that are just too far from Godley Station, and even draw patrons from Berwick, Richmond Hill, and Georgetown.
Check back for more updates to these projects and more as the details, pictures, and opening dates become available.