The developer who is building the Savannah Outlet Mall in Pooler officially announced Tuesday that Ben Carter Enterprises will bring more retail shops to downtown Savannah.
The $72 million project will add nearly 25 retail stores, as well as studio loft apartments. The developer plans to utilize the historic buildings already established on Broughton Street and most of those properties are already under contract.
Ben Carter of Ben Carter Enterprises said he was inspired to bring more business to downtown Savannah while he was working on the plans to build the outlet mall in Pooler.
The project stretches nearly five blocks along Broughton Street, from Drayton to Montgomery streets.
Ben Carter Enterprises is buying up buildings, some that are empty and some with businesses that are willing to sell and move. Carter says he plans to restore the buildings to bring more stores, restaurants and living space to the city.
"We are working hard with the arts community, the public, political community, the retailer community and restaurants. Every day I walk the streets, I meet somebody else that has an opinion who wants to help," said Ben Carter.
Carter revealed in a TV exclusive to WTOC that J.Crew is one of the new retailers that will move in at the corner of Barnard and Broughton.
Ann Taylor LOFT has also signed a lease.
While plans seem to be moving along to bring in more stores, the city says it has no plans to add any additional parking.
"We are not adding any new inventory," said Alderman Van Johnson. "The fact is, these buildings are already here."
Neither the city nor the developer has any plans to add more places to park.
"Well, parking is very important but I'm not adding any feet," said Ben Carter.
Some say the struggle to find a parking space downtown is already a deterrent.
"If they are going to add any kind of big businesses down here, there definitely needs to be more parking," said Aaron Hauck of Savannah.
But the city says there are places to park.
"There are six parking garages and most of them have vacancies on a daily basis," said Alderman Johnson.
The city says there is enough parking, but only if they are willing to walk a couple of blocks and pay a few bucks, especially on the weekends.
"I really don't like having to pay for parking so I will find myself driving around for hours looking for parking," said Kaylyn Drinkwater of Savannah.
The city says, in the long term, there is a possibility they will add more parking, but for now those who plan to come check out the new shops will just have to manage.
Officials from Ben Carter Enterprise say the restoration process will begin in the next 30-45 days and stores could open as early as this summer.