MPC meeting to discuss hotel development in downtown Savannah postponed

Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 6:42 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - New hotels and motels could soon face major hurdles if they want to build in certain neighborhoods in Savannah.

The overlay that they’re asking to extend essentially makes it harder for hotels or motels to build in a given area.

The Metropolitan Planning Commission was supposed to take up the issue at a meeting on Tuesday, but that meeting has been postponed to July 25th. The MPC has cited “lack of a quorum” for the postponement, meaning not enough members were able to attend the meeting.

You may have seen these signs up around town advertising what was supposed to be Tuesday’s meeting.. The signs, Nancy Maia with the Victorian Neighborhood Association says, have confused some people, leading them to believe a hotel is trying to get permission to build.

Maia says people have felt relief when they find out it’s the exact opposite.

“Almost unanimously, their response is, ‘Oh, thank goodness, because I don’t want a hotel in my neighborhood,’” Maia said.

It’s nothing against development, Maia says, but more about preserving residents’ way of life, as well as small businesses in the area.

“People really want to see our neighborhood stay the way that it is. They love our small businesses, they love the walkability of it. They’re afraid of traffic and congestion and big box stores coming in.”

The current hotel overlay district covers area between the Savannah River and Gwinnett Street. The neighborhoods are asking to extend that district so it would go all the way to Victory Drive.

The MPC was supposed to decide whether to approve, deny, or continue the issue at a meeting Tuesday.

Maia says she hopes people will show up for the new meeting, as well as write letters and emails expressing their opinions on the issue.

“All letters are helpful and all voices matter in terms of expressing neighborhood support for this initiative.”

If approved by the MPC, Savannah City Council would have to take up the issue. They’d get final approval.

The initiative has picked up steam in several neighborhood associations. Three neighborhoods are asking for the overlay. The Victorian, Thomas, and Cuyler-Brownville neighborhoods are all on board.

WTOC asked Mayor Van Johnson last week if he would support the measure, but he didn’t take a position.

“There are a lot of stakeholders. I wish they’ll take the time to communicate with all those stakeholders before it comes to us,” said Mayor Johnson.

WTOC will keep you updated as the situation develops.