New city hall hopes to catalyze growth along Hwy 80 in Pooler

Updated: Apr. 2, 2016 at 2:48 AM EDT
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POOLER, GA (WTOC) - There's no doubt Pooler is one of the fastest growing cities in our area, but as its leaders look to the future, they're being mindful of Pooler's history as well.

That mindset is at the center of what is arguably the city's biggest project right now: A new government complex.

The mayor told WTOC the new city hall building being built is a big step toward changes unlike any Pooler has seen before.

"The west side of Chatham County is the targeted area of growth, but the city of Pooler is the bullseye," said Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb.

In recent years, the center of that bullseye has no doubt been along Pooler Parkway.

"We've grown on the north end, but it won't be long before you'll see things popping up more on the south end," said Mayor Lamb.

The most obvious thing to pop-up has been the city's new government complex. The $18 million, three-story building towers over the current city hall, which was designed in 1984. The new complex will house city offices, the council chambers, a courtroom and the police department.

"This will be a legacy building. It's going to be a 100+ year building, which you don't see designed much anymore," said Holmes Bell, chairman/CEO of Hussey Gay Bell.

Bell's engineering firm spent a year designing the 52,000 square-foot building.

Just two years ago, all the property on that city block was owned by about eight different parties. The city has since acquired all of that land to create a central city square.

"And now we're putting the city hall in the center of the square, and so basically what we're going back to is the idea of an old time historic square atmosphere," said Bell.

That's the "feel" city officials envision for this oldest part of the city, and the hope the new city hall will be a catalyst for revitalization along the Highway 80 corridor.

But they don't want to replicate the Pooler Parkway at all. Instead they want to one day create a charming, walkable downtown area that Pooler has lacked for so long.

"I just think it's a great idea to make sure we keep this historic area, because this is where Pooler started, and I don't think we ever need to ignore this part of Pooler," said Mayor Lamb.

This plan doesn't mean the city is pushing current businesses out, but they are working on incentives to encourage property owners to redevelop businesses along Highway 80.

The new city hall is on track to be complete by this fall.

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