Debate continues over new Broughton Street buildings - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Debate continues over new Broughton Street buildings


There is some debate about how a new building should be constructed on Broughton Street.

An H&M retail store is supposed to be going in the space next to the McDonalds as part of Ben Carter's plans to revitalize Broughton Street. The Historic Review Board reviewed those plans on Wednesday.

The Historic Review Board took issue with some of the plans, saying the building will take up two spaces, and many board members wanted the building to look similar to the one that they plan to tear down.

But when board members said the design, they said the building was nearly 20 feet taller than it should be. They say the four story building should be 46 feet tall, but the current plan is to build it more than 60 feet tall.

Board members said the renderings are not visibly compatible to other surrounding buildings. On Wednesday, they voted on a continuance so architects could go back to the drawing board and work with H&M about reducing some of the square footage.

Board members were in a very sticky spot because they voted against tearing the building down, but they were overruled. The Historic Savannah Foundation is now suing the city of Savannah.

They are suing for allowing Ben Carter Enterprises to tear down the building to make way for the H&M retail space. The CEO of the foundation spoke during the Historic Review Board meeting on Wednesday.

He said there's a solution that will make everyone happy. CEO Daniel Carey said they should incorporate it into one big building.

"We think it can be done, that there's an opportunity to incorporate that building into the new design and sort of get the best of both world," Carey said.

He made that point clear in front of the Historic Review Board after architects with Ben Carter enterprises submitted their plans to build the new H&M building.

However, board members never imagined they would hear plans that included tearing down the law office next to McDonald's. The Historic Review Board voted against the plan in February, but the Zoning Board of Appeals reversed that decision.

Now, the Historic Savannah Foundation is suing the city.

"We're trying to protect a historic building," said Carey. "It's really quite simple."

Ben carter Enterprises bought nearly 27 buildings along Broughton Street, and this is the only one they plan to tear down and rebuild. It was built in 1924, but architects said the facades have been alteredso much over the years, there is damage beyond repair.

Carey disagrees and is willing to work with the architects for a solution.

"They are very good architects in the community, Hansen, we're colleagues and friends, so I think there's a real sense that compromise can be found," Carey said.

The Historic Review Board voted on a continuance because they thought the building was too tall with too much square footage, so they will vote on plans at their next meeting.

The lawsuit shouldn't prevent them from tearing down the building, but it will be up to the city whether they decide to issue a building permit.

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