New effort to save the Johnny Harris building

New effort to save the Johnny Harris building

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's been a staple in the community for close to 100 years but unfortunately the fate of the historic Johnny Harris Restaurant building is unclear and is slated to be demolished before the summer.

That doesn't mean the effort to save it has given into the bulldozers just yet. There are a couple of ways to voice your opinion through a new community Facebook page and a petition.

The organizers are trying to use persuasion and the power of social media to make a difference. Steven Vickery and two others started the Save the Johnny Harris Building Facebook page about two weeks ago and more than 2,500 people have liked the page in support.

"It's the building. It's not the food. It's not the restaurant," said Vickery.

Vickery says they're not trying to save the restaurant but "an almost perfectly preserved 1930s building."

They've also started a petition with close to 1,000 signatures in just a few days.

If you remember, last November the Savannah City Council approved the re-zoning of the property.

"The people who own the restaurant, it's a family business they want to retire they want out," said Vickery.

WTOC talked to the president of the restaurant, Norman Heidt, and though he didn't say those words he did allude to developers taking it over.

"It will be after April before anything is actually done and were not sure what's going to happen and what the developer is going to do with the property," said Heidt.

Two years ago they spent a quarter of a million dollars in renovations for the 90th anniversary.
The developer ARS Ventures LLC have talked about putting a big-box retailer there.

Wednesday, WTOC talked to their attorney Robert McCorkle, a native Savannahian who says they are aware of the petition and the FB page and are sensitive to people's feelings and memories and they are not taking this lightly. But there are working on a site plan.

"We are working on the general development plan and we anticipate filing in the near future," said Robert McCorkle.

Bret Bell with the City of Savannah said the site plan does not go through council, but through the Metro Planning Commission. The city will then make sure it's up to standards.

At this point, it's just up to the owner and developer.

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