Savannah City Council confirms location of new arena
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
For more than 15 years, a discussion has taken place about building an arena in West Savannah.
Questions about money, location and the current Civic Center’s status have been main topics of concern. The Savannah City Council took a big step and answered some of those questions Thursday.
The arena is set to go at Gwinnett Street and Stiles Avenue. The council voted not to even study the existing Civic Center and to move ahead with the site design in West Savannah.
Dozens of West Savannah residents showed up to council and were very vocal about the waste they thought it would be to study the current Civic Center. They wanted a promise from the council to put the new arena at Gwinnett and Stiles.
After a debate, the council approved the arena for that site and gave the OK to the city manager to start site design.
The arena itself is going to cost about $140 million, and the council will spend a little more than $250,000 to study the canal district and how to revitalize that area.
They want to develop the whole area and not just place an arena there.
WTOC did an investigation into the current Civic Center. Even early this week there was some question from city council about whether an arena in West Savannah was the best option. That was all put to rest Thursday.
"This study will help us lay out where we want to put this, where we need to put that. It will help us identify certain areas," Savannah Mayor Eddie Deloach said.
For Rev. Chester Ellis, the vote is the next step for improving and developing the Savannah area.
"We are talking about developing the city of Savannah and the county of Chatham for the next 100 years. We know it is a phase by phase, step by step process. But, you have to make the first step, and that is what we did here today," said Rev. Ellis, the president of Carver Village Neighborhood.
It’s still uncertain as to how the project will be paid for. Some SPLOST money can go towards the planning, but with the arena costing $140 million, more money will have to come from somewhere to develop the rest of the area.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Savannah released the following statement regarding city council’s arena decision on Facebook:
The Honorable Mayor DeLoach, City Manager Cutter, and Aldermen:
On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisors of the Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association,
The Economic Impact Committee of the Downtown Neighborhood Association of Savannah, GA Inc. unanimously offers the following recommendation for your consideration:
We recommend that for financial and neighborhood reasons, the new Arena should NOT constructed on the current civic center land.
Having a large new arena in the Landmark Historic District would create additional congestion, parking, and noise issues for the neighborhood.
Making this land available for private housing development would gain the city considerable funds immediately from the sale and in the long run from property tax revenue.
The DNA supports the creation of mixed use housing and retail endeavors on the present civic center property.
Reinstating the grid wherever it has been altered should be a priority going forward.
Beyond the direct economic impact of returning the grid to the original Oglethorpe Plan, there is an incomparable historic value that draws people to our beautiful city.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Savannah, GA Inc. asks that the continued study include the above considerations.