Meeting held to discuss possible future for former Coastal Empire fairgrounds

Meeting to discuss possible future for former Coastal Empire fairgrounds

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Community leaders held a meeting to discuss updates for the former Coastal Empire fairgrounds.

The city has been looking to develop the 67 acre property for a few years now.

The city bought this property for just over $3 million in 2016 and originally planned to use it for affordable housing.

However, after further examination of the plot, 16 of 67 acres were found unusable for housing. In 2017, a state representative was looking to buy some of the land for a studio complex for film production, but the city ultimately shot that down.

Last year, city council investigated having a nonprofit on the land to develop a recreational facility.

At the meeting community leaders and residents shared different plans they’d like to see for the area. Residents said they want to see the property used for recreational use for young people in the community.

The city has been looking to develop the property on Meding near West 63rd street since 2016, but have been unable to decide on a plan.

Many city council leaders attended the meeting and discussed their proposal for the area.

“We’re talking about jobs and skill and developing a strong workforce,” said Alderwoman Estella Shabazz, District 5.

The proposal includes spaces for commercial retail and recreational areas for the city’s youth. Shabazz says community members would also like to see training for jobs within the film and music industry, as well as workforce readiness training.

“If we move forward with this economic engine and well being for our community, it can create over 1,000 jobs in our community.”

Shabazz and other community leaders say they are ready to move forward with this plan for the fairgrounds if it passes at city council.

However, other city officials, like Mayor Van Johnson, says he wants to slow down this process and speak with the entire council and the community before moving forward.

"The best way for us to move forward on this is to put a pause button on it, if we’re going to be transparent and accountable to this, we now have a new council. And we own the property and I think we paid more for it than it was worth because we thought it was that strategic of a property. I think we step back from it and start again visioning what we want from that property,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.

Community leaders says they plan to bring this proposal to city council but in the meantime, a plan on what to do with the property hasn’t been decided on at this time.

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