Restaurant plan to go before Savannah City Council - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Restaurant plan upsets Historic District residents


One man's vision has become others' nightmare. 

A young entrepreneur wants to open a restaurant at the corner of Liberty and Drayton streets. The downstairs of the corner building has sat empty for more than a year - and he thought it was ripe for the taking.

The Metropolitan Planning Commission agreed and rezoned the area for a restaurant, but area residents say parking is too sparse as it is. So now the decision is up to the Savannah City Council.

"I'm born and raised here my whole life," said Auresh Kheradmandi, an entrepreneur.

Kheradmandi worked on Liberty Street when he was younger and is now looking forward to opening his own business - a tapas restaurant - in the historic district.

"I think people need something they can socialize and hear themselves think when they're out and still enjoy themselves. Every place is either one extreme of the other we're going to look good with the lights on or off," he said.

Some residents say they would rather have the lights stay off.

Esther Shaver, longtime owner of E. Shaver's Books said that corner is not meant for a restaurant.

"Any business is not good business. There's a reason that things are not allowed in the historic district," she said.

The Metropolitan Planning Commission has already approved this building for a new restaurant but some residents say there's not enough parking and it's congested enough as it is.

Shaver said she supports Kheradmandi's effort, but just not in that neighborhood.

"If this gentleman wants to have a restaurant there a million places," she said.

Other downtown business owners said growth is always good and since Savannah is supposed to a walking friendly city anyway - parking shouldn't be big issue.

"If you want to kick all the business owners out of the commercial buildings, where's the tax base going to be. You might have a few extra parking spaces but the in the end, the reality it's a walking community and that's part of the niceness of it," said business owner David Guggenheim.

In the end, the city must decide to grant the go-ahead for the restaurant plan.  

"We have a designated loading zone here; we provide private parking in there. We're one of the few buildings that are really part of the solution in this area," Kheradmandi said.

"I'm just hopeful that City Council is reminded that the people who live here really do have to come first," Shaver said.

Right now, the restaurant issue is on the City Council agenda for Thursday, but that could change.

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