Council Gives Historic Building 60 Days - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/13/05

Council Gives Historic Building 60 Days

342 Drayton Street 342 Drayton Street

The battle over the old service station on Drayton Street in Savannah rages on. Today, it was up to Savannah City Council to decide if the building should be given another chance at restoration or be demolished.

While some council members may think demolition will be the ultimate fate of 342 Drayton Street, city leaders will give preservation efforts a 60-day window. Not everybody agrees with the decision.

After being vacant for more than 20 years, the building is the neighbor Jones Street resident Walter Wright does not want. "The building was derelict when I got there 16 years ago, and nothing has changed," he said.

Wright says proposed plans to demolish what's left of the old filling station and build three townhouses should be approved, whether it's historic or not.

"It may be historic if you want to embrace 1920s gas station architecture," he said.

"Like other old filling stations downtown, if this one can be renovated, it can be a remarkable historic asset," said Savannah city manager Michael Brown. He thinks more studies should be done before demolition is okayed.

He told aldermen the same thing. "At least 90 days, and we can't sit on our hands. We need to find out if this building can be restored."

"That's a cop out," said Wright. "They need to get on with it. It should be torn down, which wouldn't take much effort. It's going to fall down on its own. It's a safety hazard."

Wright calls it historic preservation run amok. Savannah's Historic Review Board says the property is on the National Historic Landmark Registry.

Council listened to the recommendation of Michael Brown, sort of. They will make a decision in 60 days instead of 90.

On February 16, council will revisit the appeal for demolition. They are also putting the property owner on notice to stabilize the building.

According to the tax assessors office, the Savannah College of Art and Design owns the building.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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