A look inside Savannah’s Plant Riverside District

Plant Riverside District set to open July 29

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A project years in the making is finally weeks away from opening to the public.

The Plant Riverside District is something Savannah’s never seen before, and WTOC’s Cyreia Sandlin got a tour of the property with the man behind the vision.

More than eight years ago, Richard C. Kessler, chairman/CEO of Kessler Enterprises, embarked on a re-development of the West End of Savannah’s iconic River Street. Now, the project is just about complete, offering something totally unique to the Hostess City.

“It’s not just a hotel..not just retail..not just music..not just entertainment..not just one thing, it’s all of those things together,” Kessler explained.

The Plant Riverside District will have a luxury JW Marriot Hotel, dining, retail, and so much more. On July 29th, the first phase of the district opens to the public. One of Kessler’s biggest goals for the district is to give families a chance to enjoy Savannah.

“We really focused on how to make this kid-friendly and educational for the children,” said Kessler.

A big part of that effort is a 135-foot chrome dinosaur replica in the lobby, complete with surrounding sound domes and screens meant to share the dinosaur’s story.

For the foodies coming to visit, there’s a little bit of something for everyone.

First a grab and go cafe.

A pizza spot called Graffitto.

“It’s Italian pizza, beautiful design, with a lot of graffiti inside. We hired a well-known graffiti artist,” Kessler said.

On the River Street side, there are four outdoor pavilions.

“The first pavilion, which is the one right outside behind me, is the seafood pavilion where you sit outside. Then next to that one we have a barbecue pavilion,” Kessler explained. “Then we have a Starbucks pavilion, latest and greatest design for Starbucks corporate.”

In the fourth pavilion, sushi and a biergarten, featuring beer from local favorite, Service Brewery.

The retail portion of the district is already open for business.

“We really tried to focus on bringing in local people,” Kessler said.

Plant Riverside will have six shops owned and operated by local Savannahians, and one of those Savannahians just opened her doors. Dale Parker opened the third J. Parker store this summer at Plant Riverside, but it took a lot of convincing.

“For two years he tried to convince me and I said, I just don’t think we can do another store. When I walked with him through this place and he showed me everything from the beginning, I was completely amazed and excited and that’s really all it took,” Parker said.

Parker’s doors are open, and she hopes locals will support this project just as much as tourists.

And Richard Kessler hopes locals will enjoy the project with them in mind.

“We’re committed to this city, we care about doing something worthwhile for the people that live here.” Kessler said.

Here is the list of retail, food & beverage outlets opening on July 29th.


Baobab Lounge

Turbine Market + Café


Electric Moon Skytop Lounge + Moon Deck

District Seafood

District Smokehouse

Riverside Sushi

Riverside Biergarten



Byrd’s Famous Cookies

Savannah Square Pops

Sweet Charlie’s

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