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Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 2:58 PM
DetroitMan DetroitMan is offline
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The Charm, and Challenge, of Savannah

Good article from the NYTimes discussing the rapid changes occurring in Savannah.

The Charm, and Challenge, of Savannah
By Keith Schneider
Aug. 6, 2019

New York Times

Quote:
In the annals of lengthy and arduous public reviews, a project along 54 acres of the Savannah River stands out.

The development, called Eastern Wharf, was proposed in the early 2000s; since then, it has changed ownership at least five times, altered its name once, generated two separate master plans, and appeared before the Savannah City Council for approval 58 times.

The project — a mix of residences, retail and public spaces, parking structures and recreational infrastructure, finally coming into view just beyond the moss-draped historic city center — reflects the attention.

The first residential tower, a $125 million, five-story apartment building, surrounds a parking deck. A 2,000-foot riverfront promenade stretches past a two-acre public park and rows of townhouses. The developers, Mariner Group and Regent Partners, both based in Atlanta, have agreements to start an $88 million, 193-room Thompson Hotel in the fall, and plan a $30 million, 80,000-square-foot office building. Eastern Wharf is the largest expansion of Savannah’s downtown in its 286-year history, and the first since the 1860s. Intensive public attention ensured that the project met the density, walkable scale and design ethic required by Savannah’s strict oversight.

“As a developer, it’s time-consuming and expensive,” said William W. Hubbard, president of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. “As a developer, you want to move fast and save money.”

But Mr. Hubbard called Savannah “a European-style city” with Continental charm that requires preservation. “It takes a more rigorous process if the ultimate goal is to preserve our unique experience,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/06/b...velopment.html

Last edited by DetroitMan; Aug 7, 2019 at 3:28 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2019, 8:02 PM
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I would want Savannah to rise to prominence in the future. Atlanta is nice and all but it seems that Georgia and the other coastal Southeastern states ( except for Florida) are more focused on inland cities and not the coastal counterparts.

If cities like Savannah and Charleston become more attractive to millennials and other city dwellers, it would further add to the urbanization of those states.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by jd3189 View Post
I would want Savannah to rise to prominence in the future. Atlanta is nice and all but it seems that Georgia and the other coastal Southeastern states ( except for Florida) are more focused on inland cities and not the coastal counterparts.
There are historical reasons for that. It was pretty hard for cities whose economies were based on slavery and decimated after the Civil War to recover; meanwhile inland cities that were less reliant on slavery became more industrial with the advent of textile mills, railroads, etc. and then better interstate connectivity and so on. But it's good that the historic port cities missed the mid-century boom that was occurring in the inland cities; otherwise, much of what makes them special places would've been destroyed in the name of "progress."

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If cities like Savannah and Charleston become more attractive to millennials and other city dwellers, it would further add to the urbanization of those states.
Charleston got to that point about a decade ago or so; it's currently one of the fastest-growing metros in the country with new construction happening everywhere. It is at an advantage compared to Savannah as it is essentially on par with SC's other sizable metros. Savannah, on the other hand, shares its state with Atlanta.

Last edited by KB0679; Aug 8, 2019 at 4:25 PM.
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  #4  
Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 1:28 PM
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Originally Posted by KB0679 View Post
Charleston got to that point about a decade ago or sobvb it's currently one of the fastest-growing metros in the country with new construction happening everywhere. It is at an advantage compared to Savannah as it is essentially on par with SC's other sizable metros. Savannah, on the other hand, shares its state with Atlanta.
Like you said, Charleston is/has been hot for quite some time. My father sent me this article on Sunday:
Charleston’s the No. 2 place in SC to secure a mortgage, study says.

Both Charleston and Savannah face a storm threat, but for Savannah that threat is one of the lowest on the entire East Coast. Charleston is elevated, but still much lower than many parts of the Gulf Coast/East Coast. Last storm was Hugo, 30 years ago.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 4:00 PM
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Both Charleston and Savannah face a storm threat, but for Savannah that threat is one of the lowest on the entire East Coast.
Even considering this, I'm not sure if historic Savannah housing would even pass my own "threat safety ratio" which is based on the threat level relative to their solidity (rather than simply on the threat level as an absolute).

(Also, last time I looked, the prices were absolutely insane anyway, so, pass.)
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  #6  
Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 2:52 PM
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Charleston is booming like crazy, but it isn't urbanizing. The core is generally protected from development and quite small. It's actually an extremely sprawly metro, with very limited transit and few walkable areas.

It seems like half of Ohio and Upstate NY moved to tract homes in Charleston-area sprawlburbs. I don't quite understand the appeal, as the beaches are pretty bad, the metro is fairly expensive, and the historic center is a few blocks. I assume the job market is quite good?
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 4:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Charleston is booming like crazy, but it isn't urbanizing. The core is generally protected from development and quite small. It's actually an extremely sprawly metro, with very limited transit and few walkable areas.
Yes Charleston sprawls but it is absolutely urbanizing; I'm not sure where you're getting that from. There is a ton of new development on the peninsula, particularly north of Calhoun Street along upper King and Meeting streets extending up into what's called the neck area which has traditionally been a bit more run down and industrial. It's quality urban development too; Courier Square is a good example of the type of development happening in that area.

Quote:
It seems like half of Ohio and Upstate NY moved to tract homes in Charleston-area sprawlburbs. I don't quite understand the appeal, as the beaches are pretty bad, the metro is fairly expensive, and the historic center is a few blocks. I assume the job market is quite good?
"A few blocks"? No Charleston isn't the size of Boston or Philly but the historic downtown is definitely more than a few blocks and has a great deal to offer. The beaches aren't like what can be found in South Florida but they are nice enough; there's also some good golfing to be had in the area. The cost of living is certainly increasing but overall I wouldn't characterize it as fairly expensive. Now there is the issue of Southern wages not being as competitive but the job market is overall very healthy and rapidly-growing.

I think if Savannah can manage to land a big manufacturing plant like Charleston has in recent years, it could see accelerated growth in the coming years.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 4:52 PM
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Originally Posted by KB0679 View Post
Yes Charleston sprawls but it is absolutely urbanizing; I'm not sure where you're getting that from. There is a ton of new development on the peninsula, particularly north of Calhoun Street along upper King and Meeting streets extending up into what's called the neck area which has traditionally been a bit more run down and industrial. It's quality urban development too;
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.
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  #9  
Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 4:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192
^ Wow, I'm visiting that streetview and come away with an exactly opposite impression from yours.

Yes, there is vacant land, but if you look at the existing structures and the new infill, all of it is in proper urban format.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 5:12 PM
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^ Wow, I'm visiting that streetview and come away with an exactly opposite impression from yours.

Yes, there is vacant land, but if you look at the existing structures and the new infill, all of it is in proper urban format.
It's perfectly fine, but it doesn't look notably different from random infill in Columbus or Raleigh or Portland. It has nothing to do with Charleston's supposed uniqueness.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 5:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.
Yea, there's nothing that stands out there. Not urban for me either. Certainly not a paradise of any sort.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 5:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192
It's clear as day that that area is urbanizing. I don't understand how that isn't obvious to you. Of course it's brand new construction but it's still an extension of downtown Charleston.

Quote:
The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.
And there is quality infill occurring in that historic square mile or so, and the northern part of the peninsula is most certainly urbanizing.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 9:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192

The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms. There's maybe 1 square mile of "old" in a metro of nearly one million, and there will still be 1 square mile whether the region has 100k or 10 million.
I've never been to Charleston, but yeah, the area you show in the link isn't urban at all. When you slowly zoom out of that block, it's all the more evident.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by LA21st View Post
Yea, there's nothing that stands out there. Not urban for me either. Certainly not a paradise of any sort.
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
I've never been to Charleston, but yeah, the area you show in the link isn't urban at all. When you slowly zoom out of that block, it's all the more evident.
Nobody claimed that area was urban but it is clearly urbanizing. To claim otherwise is to be either blind or disingenuous.
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 10:32 PM
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The point is that the "charming" part of Charleston is very small, geographically, and isn't growing, even as the region booms.
Which is exactly as it should be, given that the historic square mile can only get either preserved as it currently is, or irreversibly spoiled. And I'm 10000x for the former over the latter.

(I suppose that may have been your point, in which case, we're in agreement.)
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Old Posted Aug 8, 2019, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by lio45 View Post
Which is exactly as it should be, given that the historic square mile can only get either preserved as it currently is, or irreversibly spoiled. And I'm 10000x for the former over the latter.

(I suppose that may have been your point, in which case, we're in agreement.)
There is actually infill occurring in and near the traditional historic downtown area as well. Hotel Bennett, built right on Marion Square, is a recent example.
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Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 8:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I actually stay in a new construction hotel on Upper King for work. Don't find the area urban/unique at all. This is the general area:
https://www.google.com/maps/@32.7978...7i16384!8i8192
I haven't been to Charleston since I was like 10, and I don't remember much of it except the port... But some of the older architecture of this area reminds me of New Jersey.
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Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 3:10 PM
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I spent some time in Savannah about a year and a half ago. It's beautiful, but I don't think people realize how small the "urban" part of the city really is. The downtown area proper only has about 3,400 residents. If you add in the historic, but slightly newer/less walkable areas surrounding Forsyth Park, there's another 40,000 or so. The walkable area is tightly restricted by the river to the north, and really unfortunate urban renewal decisions (along with large heavily black housing projects) to the east and west. The only place it seems to organically merge with the surrounding fabric is to the south, where it's racially mixed and seems to be gentrifying, forming a straight up "white corridor" directly to the more suburban areas like Chatham Crescent.

Still, there really isn't all that much upside potential for Savannah I think. Housing is already pretty damn expensive, unless you're looking for a non-historic home in one of the ghetto neighborhoods. The city is pretty set on not densifying the core area - for good reason I think - but it still limits the ability to build major new apartment areas. It's kinda a shame the city never developed a second downtown the way New Orleans did (French Quarter the original downtown), because it would be helpful if there was an area wide open for development just a short walk from the core.
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Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 6:06 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
I spent some time in Savannah about a year and a half ago. It's beautiful, but I don't think people realize how small the "urban" part of the city really is. The downtown area proper only has about 3,400 residents. If you add in the historic, but slightly newer/less walkable areas surrounding Forsyth Park, there's another 40,000 or so. The walkable area is tightly restricted by the river to the north, and really unfortunate urban renewal decisions (along with large heavily black housing projects) to the east and west. The only place it seems to organically merge with the surrounding fabric is to the south, where it's racially mixed and seems to be gentrifying, forming a straight up "white corridor" directly to the more suburban areas like Chatham Crescent.
I've never visited Savannah, but this is my impression of Charleston, and why I'm a bit confused about the city's draw.

Charleston has a gorgeous core, but the really attractive stuff covers at most a square mile. It probably has about as much pre-auto fabric as random older Northern cities like Kingston, Portland and Lancaster, but almost no one visits or moves to these places for urban charm, and magazines don't rank these places above Paris as travel destinations. And because you can only preserve the charm by keeping as-is, all the growth is on the fringe, and doesn't look different from the stuff you see in every other booming SE Sunbelt metro.

To me, Charleston is basically another Charlotte-Raleigh type transplant city, but with a cute historic core instead of glassy skyscrapers. They have built quite the reputation, though. People are moving from places with existing neglected historic cores to sprawl, on the pretext that they value historic cores.

And that also has me wondering if you put say, Kingston, in say Alabama, would it be a hot city? If Charleston were say in NJ would it be a backwater?
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Old Posted Aug 9, 2019, 7:13 PM
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Charleston has a gorgeous core, but the really attractive stuff covers at most a square mile. It probably has about as much pre-auto fabric as random older Northern cities like Kingston, Portland and Lancaster, but almost no one visits or moves to these places for urban charm
But they would, if these places were on the ocean and with a Sunbelt climate. It's a pretty rare and desirable combination, so, no wonder it's expensive.
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