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City staff evaluating proposals for Savannah fairgrounds

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 5:35 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - After two open house meetings on the future of the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds, we’re getting an update on the development project.

Savannah’s city manager says staff is now evaluating all the proposals.

The Coastal Empire Fairgrounds has been a controversial issue for years. It’s one of the largest properties the City of Savannah owns.

Staff reports show the city bought the property in 2015. By 2017, council started discussing plans for the site.

“I understand I am the sixth city manager to be working on this project, and it’s my intent to be the last city manager,” City Manager Jay Melder said.

Thursday, council members learned a decision on the future is right around the corner. Melder says staff are in the process of evaluating all the proposals.

There will be two evaluation phases, including looking at the economic and community benefit.

There are 10 items each proposal needs to address - such as traffic, zoning, and parking, and more.

Melder says a proposal could be rejected if certain requirements are not deemed adequate by staff.

The final evaluation phase will look for the proposal with the highest combined purchase price and increase in appraised value.

Melder says these two evaluation phases will help bring the best proposal to council.

“All the ten compulsories, plus the economic benefit phase, really add up to a process that’s going to allow the city to pick the best development and the best development will rise above in that process. Both, in terms of how it’s actually scored, but also with what the community concerns are,” Melder said.

Melder hopes to bring his recommendation to council by the next meeting scheduled for Oct. 28.

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