Hotel boom in Savannah's Historic District drawing criticism

Hotel boom in Savannah's Historic drawing criticism

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Build it and they will come.

Sounds like "Field of Dreams." But for Savannah's tourism industry, it's more like build it and they will stay.

Eighty percent occupancy rates, and new hotels popping up all over the Historic District.

Project Manager Luke Dorman says The Perry Lane Hotel along Drayton Street - some nicknamed our own Big Dig - is moving right along.

"We are pouring concrete every single day," said Dorman.

As crews work their way up the one level underground parking lot portion, they'll move to constructing two multi-story hotel buildings with 168 rooms, joined by a familiar looking streetscape. Like a walk on River Street with cafe seating, a gym, pool and rooftop event space.

Some wondered if they found any bones or Savannah history down there.

"You think you might, but we never did. We found a lot of dirt," said Dorman.

What did they find? Resistance from neighbors and people tired of what seems like endless hotel construction downtown. Dorman says it's all good.

"The facts speak for themselves as far as the vacancy rates. The rooms we have, the rooms that continue to fill up," said Dorman.

The numbers speak loud and clear too. Right now in Savannah's Historic District, four hotels are under construction and at least seven are under review. The West Elm Hotel, which will be built at Forsyth Par, is one of those inching closer to construction.

"My concern is what ae we doing to the fabric of the historic district with more and more and more hotels," said Alderman Bill Durrence.

Durrence has heard the call from some for a hotel moratorium. He's not going that far, instead asking for a discussion on pushing hotel development outside the historic district and emphasizing more permanent housing development.

"I worry that if we keep creating more housing for transients, it really does become a bit of a theme park," said Durrence.

Perry Lane Hotel is on schedule, with a planned opening in December 2017.

Dorman thinks the tourism industry will continue to dictate the landscape of Savannah.

"The market has truly told us what the whole situation can stand," Dorman said.

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