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Housing Authority plans to sell 5 acres of Yamacraw Village

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Plans to demolish one of the largest public housing complexes in downtown Savannah now include selling a portion of the land.

The new details are part of a court filing by the Housing Authority of Savannah in response to a lawsuit filed by Savannah Yamacraw Association over the demolition plans.

In a response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the housing authority say the plan is to sell five acres of the property to the City of Savannah for the Springfield Canal widening project.

The remaining 17 acres would be redeveloped by the housing authority in a “ground lease with a yet to be created partnership” for a new, low-income housing development.

The new details are part of a legal response filed in March in which the housing authority asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

In February, the association sued on behalf of Yamacraw residents to stop the demolition plans from moving ahead.

The group also has petitioned the court arguing it should be allowed to submit its own redevelopment plan, which the association contends is mandated under federal law.

In the response, the housing authority argues it has notified the public about its plans going back to 2019, including 44 meetings with groups of Yamacraw Village residents.

It also has completed Phases 1 and 2 of an environmental assessment of the property and consulted with historic preservationists.

Yamacraw Village is a 350-unit public housing complex built in 1940 that sits on 22 acres on the west end of downtown Savannah.

WTOC Investigates previously reported on federal inspections of the complex, which show the poor living conditions inside the public housing complex.

An analysis of the recent inspection reports show Yamacraw has some of the worst-ranked conditions for public housing in the nation.

The demise of the complex is one of the driving factors behind the housing authority’s plan to demolish it and mentioned several times in its response to the lawsuit.

The group suing argues the housing authority neglected the property over recent years to make a case for demolition.

Any plans for the property require a decision by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The housing authority has not yet submitted its plan because it is waiting for state review of the environmental assessment, according to HAS.

The City of Savannah released the statement below:

The City of Savannah has developed plans to improve storm drainage and reduce flooding risks within the Springfield Canal drainage basin. This Basin is roughly bounded by Louisville Road to the North, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the East, Derenne Avenue/I-516 to the South, and Chatham Parkway to the West. The Basin is home to many residential neighborhoods and businesses, as well as the City’s new arena project.

Currently, there are still portions of the Springfield Basin that are subject to flooding during certain rain events. For decades, the City has worked to improve drainage and reduce flooding within the Springfield Basin by developing drainage canals and pump stations. The City has designed additional enhancements based on studies and computer models that will further improve drainage within the basin. These planned improvements include widening of the Springfield Canal and the installation of additional stormwater pumps to convey and pump stormwater out of the basin and into the Savannah River. These improvements are being designed to properly drain the basin during a 100-year storm event (defined as 10-inches of rainfall over a 24-hour period); which will be a significant improvement over the current drainage capacity. These property acquisitions are necessary to implement these improvements.

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