Special Report: Boom on Broughton - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Special Report: Boom on Broughton

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

In the heart of downtown Savannah, change is coming.

A real estate developer from Atlanta plans to spend millions of dollars transforming Broughton Street.

The project includes everything from retail to restaurants, but who exactly is this man, and what is his vision?

If all goes according to plan and Ben Carter gets his way, Savannah will be right up there with Atlanta and Jacksonville as a premier shopping destination.

Carter, owner of Ben Carter Enterprises, already has a few projects under his belt that many people in the area are probably very familiar with.

Carter is also behind the St. John's Town Center, a two million square foot retail development in Jacksonville.

Right now, he is working on an outlet mall in Pooler. The new outlets will have 560,000 square feet of stores and restaurants.

Carter said when he brought in potential retailers for the Pooler mall, he took them out to dinner in Savannah, and that's when he was inspired to renew Broughton Street.

"At night, we'd go out and eat, and us people in retail like to walk the streets," Carter said. "I kept looking at these buildings and saying ‘this is a really underserved area'.  If the demographics are good enough for a fashion outlet mall, they're certainly good enough to bring to the high street."

Now, more than $70 million later, he has more than two dozen buildings waiting to be transformed.

"We started out with a target of about 20 buildings, and we just closed 25 and have 12 more under contract," he said.

Carter said he wants a mix of high and low stores.

"They try to get retailers in a neighborhood together," he said. "There's certain types of retailers that appeal to the same customer, so it's important to cluster stores like Gap and Banana Republic across the street from each other, like Urban Outfitters and Free People."

Although he can't give too many details on what to expect, here's what he can confirm.

J. Crew is getting readuy to start construction, and a Florida company called Ancient Olive, that sells gourmet olive oil. L'occitane has also recently signed a lease, and Palm Avenue just opened up after moving from Abercorn Walk.

Carter's goal? To appeal to the masses so there's something for everyone.

"In that particular block, we've looked at Main Street type tenants," he said. "Retailers that appeal to a very broad demographic base."

Now, this does mean some stores are going to have to move.

For example, Goodwill will eventually become a Tommy Bahama.

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