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City may spend $2.2M on long-dormant Savannah River Landing development

  • The Savannah River Landing development has sat dormant since the “Great Recession” halted plans to develop the 54-acre site north of President Street as an eastern extension of the Historic District. (Eric Curl/Savannah Morning News)

The Savannah River Landing development has sat dormant since the recession halted plans to develop the 54-acre site north of President Street as an eastern extension of the Historic District.

Now about eight years after work ceased, the city is making preparations for construction activity to resume and the property’s owner — composed of the former owner’s lenders — is in talks with a potential buyer of the site, according to city officials.

On Thursday, the Savannah City Council will consider authorizing the use of almost $2.2 million for some infrastructure improvements at the site that will be completed by the property’s owner, MMA/PSP Savannah River, LLC.

A majority of the funding will come from about $1.5 million the city received as part of a settlement agreement reached in 2014 after filing a lawsuit to obtain performance bonds for the infrastructure work, said City Attorney Brooks Stillwell. In addition to the bond proceeds, the city will use $716,834 that it owed to Ambling Companies, the site’s original developer, for upgrades to the city’s existing water and sewer system, Stillwell said.

“All of this facilitates the project, which the city wants to encourage,” he said.

The city is counting on increased property tax revenue derived from development of the Savannah River Landing and surrounding area to pay off investments such as the eastern extension of the Savannah Riverwalk along the site.

The proposed funding agreement comes as a city contractor continues work on President Street and General McIntosh Boulevard, which is supposed to alleviate flooding in the area and provide access to the Savannah River Landing site. The expected completion late this year of the $28 million road project should also help in the property’s sale as the owner negotiates with a possible buyer, said City Alderman Brian Foster.

“That’s a big key for them getting a sale on it,” Foster said.

The council will also consider an easement agreement with the site’s property owner on Thursday, which will allow, at no cost, for the storage of equipment needed for the city’s Bilbo Canal drainage improvement project. That agreement comes after the city filed a condemnation petition in Chatham County Superior Court on Friday to purchase the property for $819,182 so that work on the drainage project could start.

The council had authorized the condemnation of the property, amounting to about 40,000 square feet, after the city had been unable to come to agreeable sales terms with the owners.

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