Savannah looking to purchase Coastal Empire Fairgrounds - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah looking to purchase Coastal Empire Fairgrounds

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

The City of Savannah is looking to purchase one of the largest, mostly vacant portions of land in the urban core of the city, north of Derenne Avenue.

The Coastal Empire Fairgrounds is currently owned by the Exchange Club of Savannah.

"67 acres in the middle of Savannah, there really is no other property like that in Savannah today," said Savannah City Spokesman Bret Bell.

67 acres that can be purchased and re-purposed into retail space, recreational areas, and homes, very similar to what the city did about 10 years ago on the east side with Savannah Gardens.

Bell said, "I think what is giving us confidence moving forward is our experience with Savannah Gardens. The City of Savannah made that investment almost ten years ago now, where we bought about 45 acres on Savannah's east side. That was the former Strathmore Estates Apartment complex."

The Coastal Empire Fairgrounds was appraised this year at a market value of $3,075,000.  The City has negotiated to purchase it at $50,000 less.

"The City Manager is confident moving forward that this is a good investment for Savannah taxpayers. We think that this is going to be good from a financial perspective, but we also thinks it's going to be good for a quality of life perspective, and from a public safety perspective as well," Bell said.

Bell pointed to the diminished crime statistics around Savannah Gardens since it's completion with total part one crime going down nearly 67 percent since 2008, adding though, that the fairground plot is surrounded by strong neighborhoods.

"We're getting more revenue, more property tax revenue, more sales tax revenue, and crime is lower. So we think that's a real bang for our buck," said Bell.

If City Council members decide to pursue this contract, they will have a 90-day due diligence period to complete site investigations. And if the sale goes through, this fall will be the last Coastal Empire Fair on the grounds.

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