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City Talk

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday - Email me. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

CITY TALK: Home Depot helps out American Legion post

As many of you know, a fire last spring caused significant damage in the rear of the first floor of the American Legion Post 135 and caused smoke damage throughout the building.

The grand ballroom on the second floor, which has been home to many weddings and other special events, reopened months ago, but renovations have continued on the first floor, which houses Legion offices, a meeting room, the organization’s popular bar and Betty Bombers All-American Eatery.

CITY TALK: Pros and cons of expanding city's to-go cup zone

Savannah officials are dropping a few of the more problematic proposals from a draft revision of the city’s alcohol ordinance.

According to information on the city’s website (, city staff are scrapping the proposed requirements that many license holders hire additional security even if they have no history of police calls and that 18- to 20-year-olds be banned from restaurants that serve alcohol after 10 p.m.

CITY TALK: For 'fall-down drunken St. Paddy partying'

Up in Sullivan’s Island, S.C., folks are trying to get control of their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. “Mainly,” writes Charleston Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks, “they want to cut out some of the vomiting and public urination.”

Hicks quotes Sullivan’s Island Mayor Pat O’Neil: “If you want that kind of party, Savannah is only two hours away.” Hicks adds: “If you want fall-down drunken St. Paddy partying, Savannah is your town, not Sullivan’s.”

CITY TALK: Downtown favorite returns with Lady Saigon Cuisine

For years, Saigon on Broughton Street was one of my favorite downtown restaurants. The flavorful Vietnamese and Thai dishes, the moderate prices, the solid service and a variety of other factors made Saigon a staple of the downtown scene.

CITY TALK: Neighborhoods have much in common in new 2nd District

In last Tuesday’s City Talk, I looked at some of the issues that might influence the Savannah city elections in 2015.

Later in the week, City Council approved the new aldermanic map that I referenced.

At a candidate forum a couple of election cycles ago, a resident argued that downtown needed a single alderman to represent the interests of the Historic District. A sitting member of council pointed out that the area was represented by both at-large council members and by aldermen from Districts 1 and 2.

CITY TALK: The Grey a thrilling addition to food scene

On your first trip to The Grey, pause outside so you can appreciate the restored glory of the Streamline Moderne architecture of the old Greyhound depot at 109 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

There are beautiful curves to the exterior wall and to the windows through which Greyhound patrons would have watched the bustle of what was then West Broad Street.

Take a second and feel the Vitrolite glass on the exterior walls and enjoy the view of the diners and drinkers in the beautifully lit bar.

CITY TALK: Trends to watch in upcoming city elections

So 2015 is an election year for the city of Savannah. With residents so frustrated by crime and other issues, could we see a sea change at City Hall?

Anything is possible, but not everything is likely. We don’t seem to do ourselves any favors by having city elections in odd years, but that seems fitting for Savannah.

CITY TALK: 2015 looks promising for Broughton St.

In a City Talk column almost exactly one year ago, I mentioned the efforts of developer Ben Carter to market a “premier portfolio” of downtown Savannah properties. Carter’s ambitious efforts made big news throughout 2014, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that Broughton Street has been attracting major national retailers for years.

Some of my first columns almost 15 years ago were about the evolution of Broughton Street with the arrival of Gap and Banana Republic. Retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Marc Jacobs arrived later, and, more recently, we’ve seen higher-end chains such as Kate Spade and Free People.

CITY TALK: 2015 local economy looking strong

So what are the prospects for the Savannah area economy in 2015?

It looks like there are lots of green lights ahead.

The leading index of the Coastal Empire Economic Monitor published by the Center for Regional Analysis at Armstrong State University shows solid growth into the middle of next year, and I’m betting data for the fourth quarter will indicate growth even deeper into 2015.

CITY TALK: Can city of Savannah save police merger?

When the annual statistics are released next year, 2014 will look like a fairly average year for crime in Savannah.

But it’s been an uglier and more disheartening year than the numbers indicate.

CITY TALK: Liberty Street Grill, Liberty Street Gallery add to street's local flair

This newspaper recently spotlighted the surge in locally owned businesses on Liberty Street. Last Wednesday, a friend and I checked out two of the newest entries: Liberty Street Gallery and Liberty Street Grill.

CITY TALK: Be alert as legislators eye revenue for transportation

Georgia has underfunded transportation infrastructure for years, and there now seems to be broad agreement, including among the Republican officials who lead the state, that the state needs more revenue, perhaps more than $1 billion per year.

CITY TALK: Entrepreneurs pushed boundaries in Savannah in 2014

As 2014 draws to a close and we reflect on the year, it’s worth noting that entrepreneurs are taking bigger risks than at any time since the recession.

Some of those entrepreneurs are bringing new business models to the Savannah market or are pushing existing boundaries in meaningful ways.

CITY TALK: Will chief take street-level crime seriously?

Joseph Lumpkin, the new chief of the Savannah-Chatham police department, seems to have hit a lot of the right rhetorical notes in his comments about violence in Savannah.

CITY TALK: Some sectors still struggle to recover

What happened seven years ago this month?
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. economy went into recession in December 2007. The so-called “great recession” – a term I never really liked and have rarely used in this column – continued until June 2009.

CITY TALK: recommends city’s ‘can’t miss bites’

A new post at about Savannah’s food scene has been making the rounds on social media — and for good reason.

“5 Can’t-Miss Bites In Savannah, Georgia” by People’s senior style editor Alex Apatoff is a great bit of press for the Savannah Food and Wine Festival, for a handful of restaurants and for the city itself.

CITY TALK: Holidays good time to discover businesses downtown

There has been a lot of public angst in 2014 about the fate of the Historic District’s locally owned businesses, but many are obviously thriving.

CITY TALK: Metro area continues to add jobs

The latest estimates from the Georgia Department of Labor show continued strong job growth in the Savannah metro area.

CITY TALK: What's next for Savannah tour guides?

Most of you probably already have heard about the new federal lawsuit challenging the city of Savannah’s licensing procedures for tour guides.

CITY TALK: What's next for the current Savannah arena site?

So, if we ever build that new arena just west of downtown, what should we do with the current one?
Now that the public debate is beginning in earnest, here's a quick recap of ideas from this column over the years.