Development proposed for old Johnny Harris restaurant site

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 5:56 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Plans are in the works to bring a new grocery store to the Victory Drive corridor in Savannah, along with a multi-family housing complex with up to 280 units.

The proposed development sits between Dixie Avenue and Wicklow Street just off East Victory Drive.

This is the second time development has been proposed for this area. The last time was in 2016 after the historic Johnny Harris restaurant was demolished on this site.

According to MPC documents, where the Johnny Harris restaurant sat is where developers would like to see a new Aldi grocery store. And from that site to beyond Kerry Street to the south, developers are proposing an up to 280-unit multi-family complex.

“I think it’s good because it shows more, I mean if they did their research and we’re going to sell there, shows that the area is growing. And for me, we just bought here, I think that’s great. I think it’s exactly what I was looking for when I looked at Savannah. I was looking for a place that was growing, I didn’t want to go to a dying town, you know,” said Juan Maldonado, who lives nearby.

Savannah City Council approved a zoning change for the project site, which is about 15 acres total. Since the proposal was first considered, people living nearby and in surrounding neighborhoods have raised concerns about the size of a nearly 300 unit, multi-family complex, and that affordable workforce housing is needed more than market-rate housing.

The district representative of Savannah City Council points out though, their most recent vote on zoning isn’t the final step.

“This was for zoning. We can always come back and kind of tweak what the developer wants to put over there. But I believe this time, we’re going to get it right,” Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan said.

Increased traffic is another worry for some voicing their concerns to planning officials. Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan says she’s committed to working with city departments like traffic engineering to work on solutions to any issues that might arise.

“We’re going to try to make sure that those connector streets aren’t unduly, negatively impacted. And I believe our city and the developers are going to work out something so that’s exactly what happens,” Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan said.

Again, the last council vote was just to approve the zoning change. Any site plans have to go through additional approval processes.

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