Council Mulls Demolition of Historic Building - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/12/05

Council Mulls Demolition of Historic Building

342 Drayton Street. 342 Drayton Street.

Some call it an eyesore, others call it historic. Either way an old service station on Drayton Street in Savannah may end up being demolished. Its fate lies in the hands of the Savannah City Council.

The Historic Review Board says the building is historic and can't be torn down. A local developer claims it is not. If you've seen 342 Drayton, you know it has no roof and is a shell of a building. The question is, should it stay or should it go?

"I see how it could be renovated," said historic preservation officer Beth Reiter.

Reiter says the old service station is part of the National Historic Landmark District. It's been vacant since 1985 and off the tax rolls.

A few months ago, papers were filed with Savannah's Historic Review Board requesting to develop the property and demolish what's left of the building.

"It's a contributing structure and it is historic, so the board declined the petition," said Reiter.

Local developer Walter Carson and his group planned on tearing it down and building three townhouses. They call the building a ruin, with no economic benefit, and they say it is unsafe. They also may have at least one ally on Savannah City Council.

"Personally, to me, it looks like it has had its day," council member Tony Thomas said. He says he isn't speaking for all of city council, just himself, and back in 1986, the building was in horrible condition. Twenty years later, it still sits there.

"We need to start to reevaluate what are considered historical, best for Savannah," he said.

"I think the system needs to be strengthened so these buildings are not left to be in ruins," said Reiter.

While the fate of the building is up in the air, Reiter says she's not the only one who sees a future for 342 Drayton. "A number of people have approached us who think it can be renovated," she said. "There are a number of people who think it can be restored."

A hearing will be held tomorrow at 2pm. City council will listen to both sides and then decide if 342 Drayton will be allowed to flattened or not.

If council sides with developers, their plans will have to go through the Historic Review Board for final approval.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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