New signs on hold for downtown

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There's almost always something to do in downtown Savannah, but how do you get there?

Getting around downtown can be particularly hard on locals and even worse for first-time visitors.

"One of the questions I get, ok I'm here, what's here? Everybody tells me I should come here," said Joel Weber about the feedback he gets from tourists.

Weber works at the Visitors Center in Savannah and says something has to give.

He completely supports the city ripping out the old signs and putting up new ones. "This is a good thing," said Weber.

The signs would clearly mark which way certain attractions are, if you're in the historic district, how to get to River Street and most importantly where public parking is.

"We have great parking garages but they're not well signed," said Jay Self, Director of Tourism and Film Services for the City of Savannah.

Self says when tourists see the City of Savannah parking garage they think it's for employees only and parking is what the city wants tourists to do, get out of their cars and on their feet.

Self said it's proven that people on foot spend more money than people in cars.

Sounds great on paper, but here's the problem: the hefty price tag. The cost to completely redo the signs and add kiosks would cost $1.3 million.

For now the project has been frozen because of the economy.

Many are hoping that freeze is lifted soon. "The bottom line is this, the more we get people to come to Savannah, stay in Savannah it helps the economy," said Mary Osborne, Alderman for the 2nd District.

While they can't go forward with the complete project, they can make minor changes which will be seen once Ellis square and the Fort at Forsyth Park are complete.

They will be testing out the signs there to see what a difference just those signs make.

The same group helping with this project did something similar in Asheville North Carolina.

They say once it was finished tourists extended their stay for an extra night after they realized there was more to do in Asheville.