The Savannah River Landing development inched closer to reality on Tuesday after the Metropolitan Planning Commission voted to approve the rezoning of the 56-acre site.
The site, which is located just to the east of downtown Savannah, was rezoned in 2004 and 2006 with a previously approved Civic Master Plan that mimicked the street and block plan found in the downtown historic district. The earlier planned development never got off the ground due to the downturn in the economy.
The new plan maintains the blocks, but creates larger blocks to accommodate larger building footprints. Open space and the possibility of parks and other public areas is still emphasized in the new proposal.
“… The petitioners wanted to create their own plan and their own vision for Savannah River Landing and not be bound by a prior plan,” said attorney Harold Yellin, who represents Savannah River Landing Land JV, LLC, the group under contract to buy the site.
“We think that we’ve incorporated and embraced many of the features from the old plan and brought them forward.”
According to Yellin, the primary reason for Tuesday’s request was to preserve the zoning in the event that the City of Savannah adopts a proposed zoning ordinance in the next few years. The mixed use classification will cease to exist if the ordinance changes; a planned unit classification specific to the site will carry over and remain unchanged.
“This project probably has a build-out of seven to 10 years and it’s critical to the petitioner, it’s critical to our lenders that the zoning of the site not change in the middle of the project,” Yellin said.
The property’s contracted buyer is a joint venture of two Atlanta-based companies, Mariner Group and Regent Partners. The Mariner Group recently built the $41 million Mariner Grover apartment complex along East President Street about two miles east of Savannah River Landing.
The rezoning request will now be subject to the approval of City Council, which Yellin anticipates could be in four to six weeks.
“Today was a great step in the right direction,” Yellin said following the meeting. “… We’re looking at a seven to 10 year build out. This is a massive project and it’s one of the most exciting projects to come along in a long time.”