City of Savannah works to balance preservation and new developments

City of Savannah works to balance preservation and new developments
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're continuing to dig into the latest assessment provided by the National Park Service, which recommends the Savannah Historic Landmark District remain on a priority one threatened list.

The National Park Service listed large-scale developments as one of the threats to the Historic Landmark District. The President and CEO of the Historic Savannah District says it's great to see new development coming into downtown, but it's important that the city not lose its history. He says there needs to be action taken so the city can get off this list.

Large-scale development was one of the threats listed in the assessment. The city of Savannah says it's taking major steps when it comes to large-scale development. The city says Savannah has become a popular place, both nationally and internationally. They say they're working with developers.

We're told some of the new developments have even brought restoration to the city.

"One thing I'll point to is the Broughton Street efforts with Ben Carter. I mean, we almost have all of the buildings on Broughton rehabilitated and back to their glory," said Bridget Lidy, Director of Planning and Urban Design.

In addition to maintaining Oglethorpe's town plan, the study also suggests the city keeps an eye on large scale development, like hotels.

"We're something of a victim of our own success. We attract 14 million visitors and we love that. We're the Hostess City."

Historic Savannah Foundation President Daniel Carey says one of the factors keeping the city on the list is an increase in hotel development.

"As we design and develop infrastructure, that takes care of those 14 million people in a city that's otherwise just 140,000 people. You have to think. how do we balance their interests with residents' interests," Carey said.

The city says two items have already been approved, which will help with the balance of preservation and new development.

The Hotel Overlay District defines the areas where hotels would and would not be permitted. Savannah City Council also recently adopted a tourism management plan. The city says the plan will serve as a roadmap to guide city, residential, preservation, and tourism efforts.

Carey says Savannah isn't the only city that faces this problem.

"New Orleans, Charleston, Annapolis, Newport. These are places that are real gems in our country's history," he said.

Carey says only we can fix our problem here at home.

"We have to figure it out ourselves. Nobody is going to do it for us."

The city says they are working on two new ordinances which will also help with preservation - an archaeology and a historic pavement ordinance. Both of those are expected to go in front of council in mid-April.

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