Canal District master plan summit held, residents updated

Canal District master plan summit held

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After months of feedback and forums, more than 100 residents got the opportunity to hear what recommendations consultants have come up with to revitalize the Canal District in a master plan.

The city is hosting a two day summit to finalize the draft plan.

Looking at the renderings was pretty exciting at what the Canal District could look like, but for some residents it can also be a little nerve wracking with what this development could bring. The city is working to make sure gentrification and displacement do not become a reality.

The plan details how to restore the Springfield Canal, improve nearby streets, protect existing historic structures and add mobility and transportation. Residents are wondering why parking hasn't been added to the 3 year master plan with the construction of the arena.

"And this master plan that we've been waiting for is still not addressing parking, so I'm very curious as to when we will be seeing that," said Bridget Lidy, City of Savannah.

The planners presented 20 critical steps they believe need to happen. Some of the most notable recommendations include turning the Water Works building into a fresh food market, adding a homeowners program that gives tax breaks, and even looking into adding a tax allocation district to fund more projects there.

"The public is responding to those. Questioning about parking, questioning about storm water drainage pipes. and we need to go ahead and be able to answer those questions when we get through with this planning process," said Lidy.

So far, it’s not clear out of this plan what has been funded and what has not. But the recent success of SPLOST 7 will fund infrastructure projects directly within the Canal District. However, consultants say SPLOST cannot be the only main funding for the Canal master plan.

"It has been used over the last couple of decades to support a lot of the drainage improvements in our community. Without SPLOST we would not be where we are today with our fabulous drainage system, that we are constantly building, monitoring and maintaining," said Lidy.

There’s no timeline on when the arena plans will be finished. But this master plan will wrap up in about a month and a half.

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