Updated: Wed, 01/09/2013 - 17:22

Historic board applauds changes to proposed East River Street hotel/retail complex

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The updated plans presented to the board Wednesday reduce the number of retail buildings along the waterfront from four to two, widen public spaces between waterfront structures and alter the design of the riverfront hotel.  Savannah Morning News file photos
Savannah Morning News file photos
The updated plans presented to the board Wednesday reduce the number of retail buildings along the waterfront from four to two, widen public spaces between waterfront structures and alter the design of the riverfront hotel.
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The proposed East River Street hotel/retail complex on Savannah’s waterfront will be less visually imposing and include more waterfront greenspace than originally presented, according to updated plans.

Project architect Patrick Shay presented designs for the Georgia Power headquarters site Wednesday to the Savannah Historic District Board of Review.

The board granted the first of at least three approvals for the development, which will feature two hotels, a parking garage, two retail buildings and two public plazas.

The board approval clears the way for the sale of the property from Georgia Power to the developer, North Point Hospitality. The deal could close as early as next week, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

“These plans show something we feel proud of and meets all the conditions set forth by this board last month,” Shay said.

The updated plans address many of the concerns expressed by the board when the project details were introduced in December.

Major changes include reducing the number of retail buildings along the waterfront from four to two, widening the public spaces between the waterfront structures and altering the design of the riverfront hotel.

The updated retail buildings are larger than the four previously proposed but allow for larger public plazas and increase river views for pedestrians. One of the plazas will be more than 90 feet wide while the other will be 40 feet wide. The prior plan called for four narrow plazas between the waterfront buildings.

The waterfront hotel, meanwhile, won’t tower seven stories along the riverwalk’s edge. The new plans call for the hotel tower to be stepped back from the pedestrian walkway, addressing concerns that the hotel “walls off” the east end of River Street and east views of the river.

The tower will stand one story higher, however, measuring about 99 feet high. Shay had told the board in the December meeting pulling the tower away from the riverwalk would mean adding another story to make up for the lost square footage.

Board members voiced no objections to the taller hotel tower and expressed relief about the updated plans overall.

“We have a long way to go,” board member Reed Engle said, “but it’s a real good effort.”

Shay, the architect, will bring the project back next month for a review of façade openings and parking standards. The board will also review design details at a later meeting.

 

 

NEW BUILDING PLANNED FOR CONGRESS STREET

The vacant lot once home to the courtyard dining area of the former 606 East Café on West Congress Street could soon feature a three-story commercial building.

The Savannah Historic Board of Review granted the first of two necessary approvals for the proposed building.

The property owner, Bob Turner, told the board a national retailer has committed to lease two floors of the new structure as well as that of the adjacent building on the corner of Congress and Montgomery streets. That building housed the 606 East Café in the 1990s.

The new structure would be next to Garibaldi’s restaurant and sit across Congress Street from City Market.

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