New businesses opening downtown spark parking questions, solutio - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

New businesses opening downtown spark parking questions, solutions

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Two new stores are opening soon on Broughton Street - Mac and H&M - along with brand new businesses coming to the center of the Historic District.

Business and residents still say: parking matters.

In the heart of downtown is a huge hole with massive hotel and underground parking construction. Right next door, Green Fire Pizza plans on opening with a full outdoor tiki seating in the next month-and-a-half.

“I think it's good for the neighborhood,” said Russell Lee.

Russell Lee runs Green Fire Brick Oven Pizza. Just a few months ago, Lee was hoping more parking would be created around the area after the Parker's market lot was closed and hotel construction began.

“A lot of us were hoping Parker's would buy the building next door; the Center for Blind and Low Vision. I think it would create a huge solution to this neighborhood problem we are seeing,” Lee said.

Fast forward three months, and now the building is the new home of West Elm - a high end modern decor and furniture store, opening soon.

“I think it's just a sign of bigger and better things coming to Savannah,” Lee said.

“We have to start focusing on pedestrians and bicyclists, and get away from the automobile being our primary focus,” said Alderman Bill Durrence.

With an aggressive idea to turn Drayton Street into one lane of parking and a bike lane, as well as one lane traffic way off in the distance of any public discussion, Alderman Durrence says the Parking Matters study did suggest a transit idea he'd like to see put into play sooner rather than later.

“A downtown shuttle system that lets people who live downtown...not just visitors…have a convenient way of moving around downtown. Then, we can start reducing the vehicular traffic and parking stresses,” said Durrence.

Lee thinks once this sewer project along the hotel construction is complete this week, some issues will clear up...a little.

“I think after that, it should be much easier to get in and out,” said Lee. 

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