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: 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.

CITY TALK: Lewis' legacy leads to rich food future for Savannah

Born in Virginia in 1916, Edna Lewis first learned to cook on her family’s farm. Years later, she opened Café Nicholson in New York City, which set her on the path to becoming one of the most influential chefs in American history.

CITY TALK: Parking on Bay is a bonus, not a plague

Despite strong opposition from the public, which was detailed in a recent article by reporter Eric Curl, city officials have temporarily removed parking on the south side of Bay Street from East Broad Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. There is no doubt that the temporary measure will result in higher traffic speeds and bring fast-moving cars closer to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

CITY TALK: Will city act to balance residential, tourism needs?

We have plenty of room for more tourists, and they’re on the way. And as more tourists come to Savannah, we are almost certain to hear growing concerns about the impacts of “too much tourism.” If we want to have a more balanced downtown economy, our best bet is to increase residential density, which will require some combination of specific policy changes.

The Fairfield Inn under construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: 15 years later, The Sentient Bean is still nurturing community

From 6-9 p.m. Thursday, The Sentient Bean at 13 E. Park Ave. will celebrate 15 years. September 2001 wasn’t the best time to launch a small business, but entrepreneurs have no control over world events. In that month, I wrote columns about the opening of both the Bean and Wright Square Café – two locally owned businesses that have delighted many thousands of customers over the years.

CITY TALK: Will new policies impact longstanding crime problems?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to diagnose the problems, and I continue to be amazed that Savannah has tolerated such blatant criminality for so long. Given that the street-level crime so often contributes to violence and constantly degrades the neighborhood fabric, you’d think someone in a position of power would finally say, “Enough!”

CITY TALK: Strong job growth continued in July

July can be a tricky month for employment. Many workers in the education sector might be between jobs, while many college students and recent high school grads might still be searching for hard-to-find summer gigs.