Crime, Parking Problems Bad for Downtown Business - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/30/04

Crime, Parking Problems Bad for Downtown Business

Crime is just one reason some businesses are closing up shop and changing locations. One downtown Savannah store owner says after ten years of doing business on Broughton Street, he's tired of all the problems and says he has no other choice but to move.

"The final straw was getting the bullet hole though the windshield, because that bullet could have easily come through my bedroom," said Gerald Schantz of Aurora Stained Glass.

Other businesses are dealing with acts of violence as well, like the Three Fishes furniture gallery, the front window of which were smashed after a teenage boy was thrown through it during a late-night scuffle.

"The quality of life has not improved," said Schantz. "It's gone downhill."

Businesses aren't surprised to see their neighbors pack up and leave, but they also say crime isn't the only thing plaguing Broughton Street. While many business owners contend the crime problem has improved a bit, they say the lack of parking spaces is killing business downtown faster than anything else.

"It takes a little bit more effort to come down here and find parking and enjoy the downtown," said Mike Spessard, manager of Go Fish. "It's great downtown, but I think that people aren't willing to make that effort as much."

Even though much effort has been made to revitalize Broughton Street, closing up shop and moving out is what some businesses owners feel is best, but regret nonetheless. "It's with deep regret that I leave," said Schantz. "It's been a good ten years. I just wish it would have been better."

Business owners say over the past five years, they've seen a major turnover downtown. They just hope things get better so more businesses don't have to close up shop.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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