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New Ellis Square - Savannah

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Council OK's concept for new Ellis Square and underground parking garage

The Savannah City Council Thursday approved a resolution that sparks a unique public and private venture to build a new underground parking garage and tear down the old one at City Market.

Private developer Batson-Cook of Atlanta would at the same time redevelop the Savannah Morning News property on Bay Street into office, residential, high-end retail space and a hotel. The developers have committed to buy 250 of the 700 parking spaces in the garage, which will almost pay for the annual debt the city will owe after floating up to $14 million in bonds to build the garage.

The project will cost the city about $21.4 million.

Council did not officially approve specifics of the funding Thursday, just the concept of the deal. But none of the council members expressed concern about the proposal.

After the garage is built, the city will rebuild Ellis Square - one of the original squares in Savannah's historic design that has held the City Market parking garage for more than 50 years.

Batson-Cook wants to completely renovate the neighboring Savannah Morning News property and construct a new building on an adjoining parking lot by late 2006, the same time the parking garage would be completed.

"The problem with the city doing it on its own is that it takes forever," said Brooks Stillwell, attorney for the developers.

While the city had been looking at redeveloping Ellis Square after the parking garage's lease runs out at the end of this year, it didn't have the money needed to construct a new garage.

"If we didn't have a guarantee of the purchase of 250 spaces, we wouldn't be doing this right now," said Assistant City Manager Chris Morrill.

The city has about $7 million set aside for the project, but will need bond money to finance the rest. The bonds will be issued by the Downtown Savannah Authority, but paid back by city taxes.

The city will be in charge of the garage construction project and will have a competitive bid process, Morrill said.

Developers said they are on an aggressive time line and wanted council's approval so they can move forward and close on the newspaper's building by Feb. 28.

The newspaper has built a new facility on Chatham Parkway. Employees will vacate the Bay Street offices by the end of October.

Terms of the sale have not been disclosed, but the building was listed at $8.5 million.

Plans are for a hotel to be built on the parking lot portion of the newspaper's property. It will also serve as the parking garage's entrance.

City officials said with conservative plans, 700 parking spaces can be built in the underground garage, but they think more could be added, which would bring in more revenue.

Projections estimate the garage will generate about $1.17 million a year and cost about $1.15 million to operate, including the debt service.

With the removal of the City Market garage, the city will restore Ellis Square. But at this point, city officials want the square to connect the surrounding area. Officials say they envision planting trees around the edge of the square with some kind of fountain in the middle that children can play in.

"We are creating a square that I think everyone can agree will be a much more active square," City Manager Michael Brown said.

3563128.jpg

This pic shows where the new (restored) square will be: Look for the Yellow PG=Parking Garage

original.jpg

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:thumbsup:

Nice to see someone come up with something different and not "business as usual" when it comes to in-fill/parking garages.

How close will this be to my favorite Savannah eating establishment...the Lady & Sons?! It looks pretty close.

The Urb

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that's a wonderful project. that parking garage is one of the few remaining eyesores left in the historic district. not to mention the restoration of a square, and the retail conversion of a dead-spot on bay!

is there anything at all negative about this project? sure doesn't seem that way.

i just love savannah ... i can't wait to visit again.

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This is great! I was worried about the area after the Morning News moved, but the infill will make it better than before.

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The Ellis Square Project includes the redevelopment of one of the six original squares laid out by James Oglethorpe. The project will provide a new interactive community square and underground parking. A public/private venture, these improvements will occur simultaneously with the adjacent redevelopment of the News Press site which will include a new 150-room hotel , 50 residential units, over 50,000 square feet of commercial space, and create more than 200 new jobs. The City Market garage was dismantled in January and the project should be completed by the fall of 2007. A City of Savannah Citizens Office has been established at 10 Whitaker Street to respond to questions regarding the Ellis Square project, road closures, access, and parking.

Renovating the Savannah Morning News Building

The old Savannah Morning News Press building, located at 111 W. Bay Street, will be developed into the News Place on Ellis Square. It will consist of a mixed-use development at the former site of the Savannah Morning News complex. This project will bring retail shops, outdoor dining, residential condominiums, and an office building for the Ellis Square/City Market area.

Aside from a new suites hotel to be built on the old parking lot, the remainder of the Savannah Morning News property and buildings will be developed by W.B. Barnard Co. The company will build a new office building on Whitaker and Bryan Streets over the garage and convert the ground floor of the existing historic newspaper buildings along East Bay Street into retail space. Ivy Realty, Inc., a residential developer from Atlanta and St. Simons Island, will purchase and renovate the upper floors of these buildings for individual condominium units.

The retail component of News Place will provide over 30,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, estimates W.B. Barnard Director Ray Michaels. Two non-historic concrete block buildings constructed by the newspaper in the 1950

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Looks like a nice project for Savannah! Dont get discouraged here...it might take a while for this thread to get some postings, especially since alot of people might be vacationing this weekend with it being a holiday and all.

Savannah has alot of projects (probably more than any other of the 2nd teir cities) but for some reason, there arent too many Savannah posters here. I guess if I lived in Savannah Id be out and about alot more enjoying the wonderful city rather than typing on these boards, but I agree with you SavannahGa, the city needs a little better representation here.

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I really like it. I was down there last month and it looked massive in size. In the middle part of last century it seems that a lot of cities went crazy tearing down everything old and unique to improve things like parking and the flow of traffic--thankfully, Savannah is able to correct past mistakes.

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:angry:

I wish I could have visited this web site sooner. I am a native of Savannah I work in the downtown district. When I first head we were getting Ellis Square back I was excited. Then I heard about the plans to build underground parking and I lost all faith and trust in my city leaders. Visualize the facts. the Savannah river is continuously dredged (to around 44' deep) to accomadate the ships that are coming in more frequently all the time. The 2.5 square mile historic district sits on a 45' bluff. The Ellis Square project is 2 blocks from the river. Under our city is dirt and mud no rock. About 2 years ago a portion of the River St. parking lot caved in dramaticly take a hint. Buildings are starting to crack and engineers are checking gauges on a regular schedule to determing the movement of the ground surrounding the big hole thats already been dug. I have a fear that many of the historic buildings are now in danger due to progress. The project has been halted with no new completion date. I hope that someone takes responsibility for this and fills that hole in fast before all the tourist standing in line at "Lady and Sons" falls in to the new underground Savannah.

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That sounds great!

What others of the 24 squares are missing?

The Chatham County Court House was built on top of Liberty Square and Elbert Square was lost to build the Savannah Civic Center.

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^ That's horrible. I had no idea the project was having those type of problems.

No and you will probably not here much about it on the news because then someone would have to accept responsibility for it.

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The Chatham County Court House was built on top of Liberty Square and Elbert Square was lost to build the Savannah Civic Center.

Actually...Franklin, Liberty, and Elbert squares were all demolished in the late 1930s for a federal highway project that never truly arrived. The city was largely against the demolitions, but the feds threatened to remove Savannah's link on the lucrative Coastal Highway if the municipal officials and public didn't surrender Montgomery Street and its squares. With the Depression in full swing, the city did not have the necessary footing to resist.

There is also evidence that the city's leadership at the time--particularly the Park & Tree Commission Chairman and City Attorney--failed to fight the demolitions in part because these squares were the ones most commonly used by the black community. These two leaders certainly held black use of the city's public spaces in utter contempt, as they conspired secretly to prevent black folks from using benches and chairs in the parks and squares.

Franklin Square (the one in front of First African Baptist Church) was restored in the 1980s. The pedestal in its center was meant for a statue that was never made. Elbert and Liberty Squares will hopefully be restored one day.

Is there any news on the Ellis Square project? Any progress on the stabilization efforts? I was shocked to read that a disaster of this magnitude was in the making, with the surrounding buildings and streets experiencing structural damage and all. I am dying to hear some news, as I moved from Savannah a few months ago and am feeling a little out of touch...

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Actually...Franklin, Liberty, and Elbert squares were all demolished in the late 1930s for a federal highway project that never truly arrived. The city was largely against the demolitions, but the feds threatened to remove Savannah's link on the lucrative Coastal Highway if the municipal officials and public didn't surrender Montgomery Street and its squares. With the Depression in full swing, the city did not have the necessary footing to resist.

There is also evidence that the city's leadership at the time--particularly the Park & Tree Commission Chairman and City Attorney--failed to fight the demolitions in part because these squares were the ones most commonly used by the black community. These two leaders certainly held black use of the city's public spaces in utter contempt, as they conspired secretly to prevent black folks from using benches and chairs in the parks and squares.

Franklin Square (the one in front of First African Baptist Church) was restored in the 1980s. The pedestal in its center was meant for a statue that was never made. Elbert and Liberty Squares will hopefully be restored one day.

Is there any news on the Ellis Square project? Any progress on the stabilization efforts? I was shocked to read that a disaster of this magnitude was in the making, with the surrounding buildings and streets experiencing structural damage and all. I am dying to hear some news, as I moved from Savannah a few months ago and am feeling a little out of touch...

Thank you for the information in the first 2 paragraphs. I study Savannah history.

It was officially anounced a few weeks ago that a monument to the Haitians will be ereted in Franklin Square. Even today you could find men and women willing to do day labor hanging out in Franklin Square that I am sure the city wishes they could remove. On Sundays charity groups show up and try to help the less fortunate there and preach to them.

Unless they tear down the Chatham County Court House and the Civic Center we will never get the lost squares back. When and if the Court house moves City Hall wont be far behind then the hstoric district can be like Disney Land not an Urban City.

Ellis Square Project

The work has stopped the contractors and the crews that wre from out of town have taken their equipment and went home. Nothing is happening.

Visit http://www.theellisproject.com/

the live video feed points at the sky now. We are extremly fortunate that this next hurricane scare is almost over. One good storm and who knows half the historic district will be in the Savannah River.

Our Mayor Otis Johnson suffered a heart attack recently and I would'nt be surprised if it wasnt due to the stress of knowing that he was partly responsible for the hoirrible possibilities that lie ahead. I feel sorry for him because I feel as if it was not his idea and he was probably pursuaded to go along with it.

I should really get off my soap box but it's hard I love my city and it could be so much better. Federal, State, County and City tax dollars are spent promoting and restoring the historic district. This money helps the rich get richer and only creates minimum jobs while our children's public school test scores are some of the lowest in the nation. The people with money dont care thier chldren go to privete schools. Yes this is seperation of class.

A history lesson could teach us a thing or two here. during the Civil War the rich paid money to avoid the mandatory draft. Common folks were unable to avoid it and pursecuted if they refused it. The majority of the Georgia voters were against the war. The wives and mothers of the men that were forced to fight for a cause they didnt even believe in, were not provided for. When the land owners were orded to grow food instad of cotton they refused. Gangs of hungry, desperate and angry women robbed and looted to the pint where land owners feard for thier life.

It is a bigger and better thing to see a mistake admit it, learn from it and not repeat it than to cover it up because it's not pretty.

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Unless they tear down the Chatham County Court House and the Civic Center we will never get the lost squares back. When and if the Court house moves City Hall wont be far behind then the hstoric district can be like Disney Land not an Urban City.

I don't think a courthouse move would reduce Savannah to a theme park, but whatever. I hope that the bloody awful Civic Center and that horrible Courthouse do indeed get demolished and replaced with restored squares and decent buildings. Though, like you, I would of course like to see a new courthouse downtown to replace the Modernist monstrosity currently offending the universe...perhaps even on the same site, only a bit to the West, properly lining Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

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I was recently in Savannah, and I was impressed at the level of construction that was going on around Ellis Square. It was a little disheartening to see the magnificent market building that was torn down for that ugly parking garage. However, its not every day that a city builds a new Square quite like this one. It looks like it will be an interesting/modern contrast to the other older squares around town.

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According to TV news stories, the Ellis Square parking garage is nearly done and should be open soon. The garage includes 1,071 parking spaces, 300 of which are new. The project is over a year behind schedule.

Does anyone know the grand opening date for the parking garage?

Ellis Square: When Will It Open? (with video)

Ellis Square Parking Garage Update (with video)

EllisSquare.jpg

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According to TV news stories, the Ellis Square parking garage is nearly done and should be open soon. The garage includes 1,071 parking spaces, 300 of which are new. The project is over a year behind schedule.

Does anyone know the grand opening date for the parking garage?

Ellis Square: When Will It Open? (with video)

Ellis Square Parking Garage Update (with video)

EllisSquare.jpg

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