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Review board OKs 6-story hotel on Liberty over objections

The Savannah Historic Review Board on Wednesday approved the height and mass for a new hotel slated to occupy a lot across from the Savannah Civic Center at the corner of Tattnall and Liberty streets despite opposition from nearby residents.

The proposed Liberty Hotel, which is being designed by Lynch Associates Architects, will encompass just over 8,400-square-feet and requires demolition of a non-contributing building and surface parking lot. The number of rooms was not available.

Several residents who live within blocks of the development spoke against the petition at Wednesday meeting and for many of them it wasn’t the first time they’d voiced their concerns.

The petitioner requested a continuance at the Jan. 11 HRB meeting to address height and visually compatibility concerns raised by staff and residents. Prior to that meeting, the project was denied a zoning change by city council last year, which would have allowed for a stand-alone bar that would be open to the public

“We’re concerned that it’s too tall for the area, that it’s shoehorned into a very small lot and it consumes all of the lot…” said Tom Colgrove, who lives on Harris Street with his wife, Susan, who presented the board with a petition signed by more than a dozen residents.

At its tallest point, the building will be six-stories, with a maximum height of 69 feet, which was reduced from 75 feet along Liberty Street. The height of the building will vary, dropping in height on the south side. The height of the central mass will be 65 feet.

While many of the board members expressed understanding of the residents concerns, they voted 4-1 to approve the height and mass. Board member Debra Caldwell was the only member to vote against the project, and member Becky Lynch recused herself from both the hearing and vote.

“I’m very sympathetic to everything that every one of you has said and if it were up to this board to determine whether we’d have hotels or not have hotels there would have been a lot less hotels built during the last 10 years, but that’s not up to us,” said Stephen Merriman.

After the meeting, residents expressed their disappointment in the board’s decision, and Susan Colgrove said that neighbors are considering hiring council to file an appeal of Wednesday’s decision.

“The frustration is very strong…,” Susan Colgrove said.

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