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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: Crowds large and small for St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah

I hope everyone had a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Day, but keep in mind that the holiday isn’t quite over. The traditional post-St. Paddy’s Irish Road Bowling Tournament is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 25. The tournament takes place on the old racetrack on Hutchinson Island. Who knew that rolling a metal ball down the road could be so much fun?

Johnson Square is pictured just before the 2017 Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade rounds the corner from Bay Street to head south. (Dash Coleman/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Proposed ACA replacement might have limited impact on Savannah economy

As I write this, we don’t know if the bill intended to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”) will be changed significantly before becoming law. In fact, it remains unclear if the bill, which was proposed just a couple weeks ago, even has sufficient Republican support to get through the U.S. House of Representatives. Still, I was immediately curious how the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would impact the Savannah economy.

CITY TALK: Savannah Stopover capitalizes on history, diversity, proximity

The seventh annual Savannah Stopover Music Festival took place last weekend with about 85 artists performing in venues in the northern portion of the Landmark Historic District. There are certainly other cities with tightly clustered entertainment districts, but few if any cities would suit a festival like Stopover better than Savannah does.

CITY TALK: Proposed Savannah River Landing master plan raises hard questions

On March 14, the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission will consider new plans and possibilities for the Savannah River Landing site at the east end of River Street. According to reporting by Eric Curl last week, Savannah River Landing Land JV, LLC, plans to purchase the 56-acre property if the prospective buyers can get approval for a new master plan for residential, retail, hotel and office development.

CITY TALK: Other streets, problems merit attention, too

The three most recent City Talk columns have detailed the preliminary design proposals for the streetscapes of Broughton, Bay and River streets by the Florida-based landscape architecture firm EDSA. he EDSA team will present the final conceptual designs from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 23 in the auditorium of the Coastal Georgia Center. It will be an important meeting, for sure, but I don’t know how much public input will be considered at this point.

CITY TALK: Is River Street even a street anymore?

In several recent City Talk columns, I detailed the progress of the Savannah Downtown Streetscape Improvement Initiative, an $8 million project to enhance the design and safety of Broughton, Bay and River streets. Today, let’s take a quick look at the preliminary plans for River Street and to the public reaction to those plans at a recent meeting at the Coastal Georgia Center.

CITY TALK: Bay Street redesign has (too) many goals

Sunday’s City Talk looked at the preliminary design created by the landscape architecture firm EDSA for the streetscape on Broughton Street. Today, let’s take a look at the Florida-based firm’s plans for Bay Street. The general proposals for Broughton, Bay and River streets were presented last week in a series of meetings with stakeholders and members of the public.

Bay Street coastal streetscape plans.

CITY TALK: Broughton streetscape debate centers on trees, lighting

On three evenings last week, planners from the Florida-based firm EDSA publicly unveiled their preliminary streetscape designs for Broughton, Bay and River streets.

CITY TALK: Following Pokemon Go’s evolution

After the introduction of Pokemon Go in summer 2016, I wrote a column about the ways in which the augmented reality game might impact local residents’ and visitors’ interactions with Savannah’s built environment. What have we learned in the last six months?

CITY TALK: Another day, another near miss on Drayton Street

“I’ve seen this play out a million times where one car stops and the car in the other lane doesn’t,” Rose said of the incident. “Most pedestrians having seen the first car stop are lulled into a false sense of security.” The pedestrian turned out to be an older woman using a walker. Rose’s car was rear-ended, but thankfully no one was injured. Similar scenes happen routinely on Drayton and Whitaker streets.

CITY TALK: Poverty data shows need for bold action

Eric Curl’s article on Sunday about the persistence of high poverty rates in Savannah caught my attention, and I hope it caught your attention, too. As Eric noted, Savannah had a 26.5 percent poverty rate in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. It’s been over a year since the last time City Talk looked closely at the numbers, so this seems like a good time to consider some of the data beyond the headline rate.

CITY TALK: Transportation tax vote could bring complicated decision

State lawmakers are considering major pieces of legislation that could have significant impacts for Savannah. As regular readers of this newspaper know, legislators might vote to allow some sort of casino gambling in the state. In recent years, Savannah has been discussed as a possible casino location, so we need to follow the various proposals closely.

CITY TALK: Savannah’s zoning crisis is here. Now.

The wonderful and dark 2016 film “Christine,” which was filmed in Savannah, tells the story of Christine Chubbuck, a troubled journalist who worked in Florida in the 1970s.

CITY TALK: Expect fewer locals at St. Patrick’s day festival after wristband fee increase

In many respects, St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah shows the city at its best. In the coming weeks, we’ll see a host of traditional events — formal ceremonies, family gatherings, celebrations of heritage. Some events will be solemn and religious, some will be raucous and secular, and many will fall somewhere in between.

Crowd dances to the live music on Rousakis Plaza on River Street. 1999 / bob morris photo.

CITY TALK: New charter school, Savannah Philharmonic enliven Bull Street

The Bull Street corridor south of Forsyth Park is usually quiet on Sunday afternoons.
 
But not last Sunday.
 
The Savannah Philharmonic hosted “Philharmonic in the Streetz” at Tricks Barbecue at the corner of Bull and 42nd streets. There was such a good crowd that I forgot to do my usual event headcount.

CITY TALK: Existing processes pit developers, residents against each other

In recent months, we’ve seen several high-profile examples of residents trying to limit commercial development in their neighborhoods. Neighborhood residents have opposed attempts by hoteliers to reduce restrictions for specific projects on Liberty and Drayton streets. Parkside residents have been increasingly vocal about proposed developments along East Victory Drive.

CITY TALK: Recent streetscape meeting presents problematic options

Last week, more than 100 engaged citizens attended the second in a series of meetings to discuss streetscape upgrades for Broughton, Bay and River streets.
 
The design firm EDSA is spearheading the Savannah Downtown Streetscape Improvement Initiative, which is being funded by $8 million in city bonds.

CITY TALK: Savannah’s economy today vs. 2008

How has the Savannah economy changed during the Obama presidency? Before I give some wonky answers to that question, I should note that U.S. presidents are frequently given too much credit and too much blame for economic shifts that happen on their watch.

CITY TALK: Looking back at our 2009 economy

This is the last City Talk column of the Obama years. Can you even remember 2009? The national economy was in freefall by the time of the 2008 general election, but many Americans couldn’t imagine how much damage the financial crisis and housing bust would do.

CITY TALK: Neighborhood vitality should be part of Savannah vision

As a columnist who has been writing about civic issues for many years, I think we need a much clearer focus on neighborhood vitality and quality of life.