City Looks Ahead to Underground Parking Garage

WTOC first told you yesterday about plans to demolish the City Market parking garage and rebuild historic Ellis Square. Today, we have more details about the project, and there's a lot to look forward to in downtown Savannah.

The garage sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's been that way for 50 years. After knocking it down, the City of Savannah is planning to on putting in 700 underground parking spaces and restoring Ellis Square on top.

It's a plan that started formulating a few years ago. "Problem is we didn't have the money," said assistant city manager Chris Morrill.

That's when help from a private developer came in. The developer is buying the Savannah Morning News building, renovating the buildings around it into condos, and putting in high-end retail stores. They are also going to build a brand new suite-style hotel.

Turns out before they could carry out their plan, they needed the city's help too. "They need parking spaces," said Morrill. "We can build a parking garage, they need the square restored to improve the value of their property."

So the developer is paying for some of the parking spaces up front, allowing the project, which will change the face of downtown, to begin in the next few months.

"We're looking at March or April to break ground and beginning the garage," said Morrill. "That's about an 18-month project and then we'll restore the square."

The $21 million project should be complete by mid fall 2006.

In case you're wondering about parking while the new garage is under construction, city officials say they are going to try to do the underground work while the current garage is still standing.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,