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Appeal challenges downtown hotel’s height

  • The City of Savannah Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday will hear a petition to appeal a February decision to grant a bonus story to the Liberty Street. Nearby residents say the project isn't compatible with the area. (Rendering courtesy of Lynch Associates Architects)

The City of Savannah Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday will hear a petition challenging the bonus story of a proposed hotel at Tattnall and Liberty Streets.

The petition, which was filed last month by attorney John Manly on behalf of the Beehive Foundation and Gary Arthur alleges that the Historic District Review Board abused its discretion by approving the extra floor for the Liberty Hotel at 301 Tattnall St., in February.

“We seek to get the scale of the building reduced. It is too tall and dwarfs the surrounding residential areas of Pulaski and Currie Town wards. In fact it makes little effort to visually relate to the historic and residential structures it faces — The entrance is now on small Tattnall Street, not on Liberty as originally proposed,” Arthur said in an email Tuesday.

“What it does relate to is the massive city parking garage at Liberty and Jefferson and Montgomery and to the equally massive Civic Center.”

The hotel, as currently approved is split between four- and five-story height zones and 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.

Another concern for Arthur is parking. The hotel does not have any on-site or underground parking and Arthur said the increase in vehicles is going to put even more of a strain on the area. Another nearby resident has gathered more than 150 signatures of people who consider the February decision faulty, Arthur said.

“Parking issues in our neighborhood are already strained, with clogged narrow streets and insufficient parking for residents and day visitors. This will be exacerbated by an unsustainable influx of intensified car traffic to such a large scale building,” he said.

A project is typically eligible for a bonus floor if there are multiple uses on the ground floor such as retail space, restaurants and bars or fitness centers. The proposed plan for the Liberty Hotel includes retail and restaurant space. Design details for the hotel were approved by the Historic board earlier this month.

“Our contention is that some Review Board members seem to think they are bound to grant a bonus story, if the hotelier puts in public retail spaces in the ground floor,” he said.

“On the contrary, the Review Board is not required to do so. They may do so. But they don’t have to, especially when the building is otherwise visually incompatible with the scale of surrounding historic structures, which in the ordinance must be given greater weight.”

More Info

Breakout Box: 

If you go

What: City of Savannah Zoning Board of Appeals meeting

When: 10 a.m. Thursday

Where: 110 East State St.

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