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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: Inside the numbers: Savannah poverty rate declined in 2014

Savannah’s high poverty rate became an important campaign issue in 2015, and I hope that we’ll continue to make poverty reduction one of our most important civic goals.

CITY TALK: Lewis' legacy leads to rich food future for Savannah

Born in Virginia in 1916, Edna Lewis first learned to cook on her family’s farm. Years later, she opened Café Nicholson in New York City, which set her on the path to becoming one of the most influential chefs in American history.

CITY TALK: Parking on Bay is a bonus, not a plague

Despite strong opposition from the public, which was detailed in a recent article by reporter Eric Curl, city officials have temporarily removed parking on the south side of Bay Street from East Broad Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. There is no doubt that the temporary measure will result in higher traffic speeds and bring fast-moving cars closer to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

CITY TALK: Will city act to balance residential, tourism needs?

We have plenty of room for more tourists, and they’re on the way. And as more tourists come to Savannah, we are almost certain to hear growing concerns about the impacts of “too much tourism.” If we want to have a more balanced downtown economy, our best bet is to increase residential density, which will require some combination of specific policy changes.

The Fairfield Inn under construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: 15 years later, The Sentient Bean is still nurturing community

From 6-9 p.m. Thursday, The Sentient Bean at 13 E. Park Ave. will celebrate 15 years. September 2001 wasn’t the best time to launch a small business, but entrepreneurs have no control over world events. In that month, I wrote columns about the opening of both the Bean and Wright Square Café – two locally owned businesses that have delighted many thousands of customers over the years.

CITY TALK: Will new policies impact longstanding crime problems?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to diagnose the problems, and I continue to be amazed that Savannah has tolerated such blatant criminality for so long. Given that the street-level crime so often contributes to violence and constantly degrades the neighborhood fabric, you’d think someone in a position of power would finally say, “Enough!”

CITY TALK: Strong job growth continued in July

July can be a tricky month for employment. Many workers in the education sector might be between jobs, while many college students and recent high school grads might still be searching for hard-to-find summer gigs.

CITY TALK: New seafood restaurant, rolled ice cream on Broughton

The Savannah Seafood Shack and Below Zero Rolled Ice Cream opened last month at 116 E. Broughton St. in the space that had been occupied for many years by the downtown Sakura.

CITY TALK: New ordinances will help entrepreneurs

Last week brought some welcome news for some Savannah entrepreneurs.

Ending years of wrangling and lengthy bureaucratic delays, Savannah city council approved new alcohol and food truck ordinances at last week’s meeting.

CITY TALK: What is a 'living wage' in Savannah?

Throughout last year’s city elections and into 2016, we’ve seen considerable public debate about prevailing wages in Savannah, especially in the leisure and hospitality sector.

CITY TALK: New city manager seems a good fit

Nothing is official, but Savannah should have a new city manager on the job by early October.

If you follow the news, you already know that Mayor Eddie DeLoach and members of City Council announced last week their intention to hire Rob Hernandez, who has diverse work experience in Broward County, Fla., Fulton County, Ga. and other places.

CITY TALK: Checking out the new Broughton St. heavyweight H&M

As I wandered for the first time into H&M at 240 W. Broughton St., I was immediately struck by the number of shoppers. More than a dozen people were waiting in line at the first floor registers.
Customers line up for the opening of H&M on West Broughton Street. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Search for city manager winds down

Members of Savannah City Council met last week with four prospective candidates for city manager. If the number had been whittled to three, the mayor and aldermen would have been required to release the finalists’ names.

CITY TALK: Newest Savannah bar Hitch hits the ground running

If you follow the downtown restaurant scene, you probably already know about Hitch, the new restaurant from the team at Treylor Park.

In fact, if you follow the downtown scene, there’s a good chance you’ve already eaten at Hitch, which seems to be doing brisk business in its first few weeks.

CITY TALK: Area's labor force continues to grow

A recent City Talk column examined the latest payroll employment estimates for the Savannah metro area, so today we’re just looking at the Georgia Department of Labor’s more recently released data from the June household survey.

CITY TALK: Savannah left its mark on James Alan McPherson

James Alan McPherson Jr. passed away at age 72 last week in Iowa City, where he had lived for many years. In 1978, McPherson became the first black author to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, for the collection of stories “Elbow Room.” Among other honors during his lifetime, he was awarded a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation. James Alan McPherson was also a native Savannahian. McPherson’s literary output was relatively small, but he wrote often of the South generally and Savannah specifically.
 
James Alan McPherson

CITY TALK: Bay Street 'experiment' will definitely hurt

“It wouldn’t hurt to try it,” City Manager Stephanie Cutter said last week during a city council workshop discussion of a proposed Bay Street “experiment,” which was later approved by council.

If you’re a regular reader of this column or if you follow the work of urban planners, you can probably think of several ways that the proposed experiment could — or will — hurt.

CITY TALK: New spray pool in Forsyth a resounding success

After lengthy delays, the spray pool opened earlier this summer, marking another step in the evolution of Forsyth Park, which many of us consider the crown jewel of Savannah’s amazing public spaces.

CITY TALK: Will 'Pokemon Go' have lasting impacts on Savannah’s cultural landscape?

At 1:30 a.m. on a recent Sunday morning, I spotted a dozen people milling around the north end of Forsyth Park. They were smiling and laughing.

They were playing “Pokemon Go.” The “Pokemon Go” craze could crash fast, but there are obviously some interesting things happening if a game can so quickly change how Americans interact with public spaces.

CITY TALK: How will Savannah respond to recent protests?

On Sunday evening, I walked to Forsyth Park for the vigil organized by Savannah’s nascent Black Lives Matter chapter.

The vigil included Bible readings, prayers and moments of silence for Americans killed by police officers, for the police officers killed last week in Dallas and for those killed in the Pulse shooting in Orlando.

Jomo Johnson, head of Savannah’s Black Lives Matter chapter, addresses the crowd that gathered in Forsyth Park to pay respects to Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the Dallas police killed by a sniper last week. (Will Peebles/Savannah Morning News)