BiS: - Business news for the creative coast.

Bill Dawers

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday - Email me. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

CITY TALK: What will replace two of Savannah's 'bathroom tile' buildings?

As Jan Skutch reported last week in this newspaper, the U.S. Congress has approved nearly $100 million for final repairs to the grand Tomochichi Federal Building and Courthouse on Wright Square and for construction of a new annex on the east side of Telfair Square. Two of the three infamous office buildings that are part of the Juliette Gordon Low Federal Office Complex will be biting the dust.

CITY TALK: Broughton Street gets good start on holiday season

On a recent Friday evening, a huge crowd gathered at the intersection of Broughton and Bull streets for the lighting of the huge Christmas tree that has been installed as part of the inaugural Holidays on Broughton.

People gather on Broughton Street on a recent Friday evening for the Christmas tree lighting event. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Muse Arts Warehouse closing in Feb. 2017

An apartment building is planned for 703 Louisville Road, just west of Boundary Street. The site, which lies in the midst of Savannah College of Art &Design residence halls, seems perfect for apartment geared toward college students.

CITY TALK: Atlantic is welcome addition to food scene

Atlantic opened recently at the northeast corner of Victory Drive and Drayton Street. The new restaurant is another exciting entry in Savannah’s increasingly ambitious food scene.

CITY TALK: Local jobs report shows longer term gain

According to the latest estimates from the Georgia Department of Labor, the Savannah area labor market headed into the holiday season in healthy shape. The Savannah metro area (Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties) had 179,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in October. That was 4,600 more jobs than we had in October 2015. That’s an increase of 2.6 percent in the last 12 months, which is probably about twice the rate of population growth.

CITY TALK: Small Business Saturday encourages 'shopping small'

Thanksgiving week is upon us, and I hope that all the readers of this column have reasons to be thankful. It’s been a rough year for many of us, and the Thanksgiving holiday might provide the chance to put 2016 in perspective.

Bridget Lidy with the City of Savannah instructs 50 student volunteers from SCAD SERVE on how to decorate the lamp posts along Broughton Street. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Vote in Savannah metro area reveals deepening divide

Many residents of Bryan and Effingham counties work in Chatham County, and many do a great deal of shopping in Chatham County, too. But Effingham and Bryan counties are nevertheless much smaller than Chatham County, and last week’s election results pointed to a deepening political divide in the metro area. Let’s look at some numbers.

CITY TALK: A broader look at boom south of Forsyth Park

The Starland neighborhood has attracted considerable attention in recent years – from commercial investors, from prospective home buyers, from the local and even national press. I’ve written about the area numerous times in recent years, but ongoing developments dictate another broad look at the rapid changes.

CITY TALK: Marathon concert makes optimal use of Forsyth stage

Something amazing happened at the Savannah Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon’s concert in Forsyth Park headlined by Old Crow Medicine Show.
Fans got close to the stage.
A family listens to the Old Crow Medicine Show perform in Forsyth towards the end of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Saturday afternoon. (Josh Galemore/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Zoning overhaul still waiting in the wings

The Savannah City Council recently decided not to pursue a moratorium on new hotels. That was probably the right move given the legal complications that such a restrictive ordinance might have spawned.

CITY TALK: It's good to learn from Savannah's newcomers

After wolfing down my blintzes at Sunday’s Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival in Forsyth Park, I decided to sit down for a spell before tackling my pastrami sandwich. Despite the bustle down the park’s main path, I found a quiet bench a short distance away.  But, as so often happens in Savannah, I got pleasantly sidetracked by three short conversations. 

CITY TALK: Should parking meter hours be extended?

For many weeks now, I have been geeking out – I think that’s the technical term – about the voluminous data generated by the city of Savannah’s Parking Matters study. The results of that study are being used to support a variety of proposed changes to parking policy and regulation in the downtown area. Some of the changes touted by city officials seem quite sensible, given the information that we have.

CITY TALK: Longtime Charleston mayor shares lessons for Savannah

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout his wise, fast-paced, even funny lecture at the Savannah Theatre last week, which was part of The Savannah Urbanism Series.

Riley’s talk was titled “Building Beauty in the Urban Environment,” but the presentation was also a primer in how to make practical decisions that serve residents in a historic city dealing with issues such as poverty and tourism.

CITY TALK: Jalapenos expands to Broughton

The new Jalapenos Mexican Grill at 7 E. Broughton St. is as comfortable and inexpensive as one would expect. With a half dozen locations in the Savannah area, Jalapenos has established a strong brand and great name recognition, and it’s good to see their concept come to Broughton.

CITY TALK: Lost wages, sales from storm will have lasting impacts

We’re well into the second week of recovery from Hurricane Matthew, and we’re hearing more and more stories of loss.

CITY TALK: What should be priorities of new Savannah city manager?

Rob Hernandez, Savannah’s new city manager, started work Oct. 10.

I suspect that he will long remember his first week on the job.

CITY TALK: It's gut check time for council on development

If you’re interested in issues related to downtown development and tourism, you need to watch the discussions about zoning at the Sept. 29 Savannah City Council meeting. At issue were two proposed hotels. Developers at a hotel at Tattnall and Liberty streets want to serve alcohol without food, and developers of a Drayton Street hotel want a so-called “bonus story” for including ground floor retail.

CITY TALK: Bay St. changes make it even harder for locals to get downtown

Savannah area residents are increasingly concerned about the degree to which tourism is dominating the downtown economy, but city officials have both short- and long-term plans to make it harder for locals to enjoy the Historic District.

First, let’s talk again about Bay Street.

CITY TALK: Can we dent violent crime if we allow blatant street crime?

On Sept. 24, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department released an impassioned plea for an end to violent crime.

In apparent response to criticism of the police and elected officials for responding more vigorously to the murder of a white resident than to murders of black residents, the SCMPD statement detailed numerous efforts made in recent months to combat violence.

CITY TALK: Inside the numbers: Savannah poverty rate declined in 2014

Savannah’s high poverty rate became an important campaign issue in 2015, and I hope that we’ll continue to make poverty reduction one of our most important civic goals.