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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: The cultural arts center as a metaphor for city dysfunction

The city has posted a page of information responding to a straw man question: “Is the City making progress on the Cultural Arts Center?” That’s kind of like asking, “Am I getting older?”

This rendering of the city’s proposed cultural arts center shows the entrance from Montgomery Street. The building gained design approval from the Savannah Historic District Board of Review

CITY TALK: Police merger collapse long time coming

The city’s negotiating position worsened throughout 2015, as crime increased, police staffing remained problematic and the city’s list of unfinished business grew longer and longer. Curiously, Savannah’s elected and appointed officials never seemed to fully appreciate just how precarious the police merger had become. And now here we are.

CITY TALK: Why should we care about Savannah's poverty rate?

“Your figures are wrong,” Jackson told DeLoach. “Before the recession, the poverty rate in Savannah had dropped tremendously to about 17 percent, but because of the recession, poverty levels have gone back up. And I admit it is too high.”

Obviously, such a sharp disagreement warrants a closer look at the poverty estimates, as well as consideration of the policy ramifications.

So what do the numbers say?

CITY TALK: New push to fix Tybee road in wake of tragedy

As many of you already know, there was another tragedy on the road to Tybee. I didn’t know Susan Allen Bartoletti, but obviously extend my condolences to her family and friends.

Bartoletti passed away last Thursday night after a wreck on the Bull River Bridge, which has seen its share of tragedies in recent years.

CITY TALK: Taking the pulse of the downtown Savannah restaurant scene

The restaurant business is notoriously difficult, but we’re seeing a restaurant renaissance in Savannah right now as savvy entrepreneurs, talented chefs and other industry professionals join forces.

photo by Bill Dawers

CITY TALK: City launches web page to fight bad info

Last week, the city of Savannah launched Just the FAQs, “a new web feature to help answer pressing questions the public may have about decisions the city has made, or services it offers.”

CITY TALK: Is consolidation of Savannah, Chatham County on the way? Is it a good idea?

At the forum sponsored by the Jaycees last week, Savannah’s mayoral candidates were asked whether they favor a consolidated city-county government. It’s a topic that seems to be coming up more and more in public discussions

CITY TALK: Continued jobs growth predicted for Savannah

The Savannah metro area (Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties) had 2.3 percent payroll employment growth between August 2014 and August 2015. That’s considerably faster than the rate of population growth.

The manufacturing sector added an estimated 700 jobs in the Savannah area over the past year, as did retail trade. The category of transportation, warehousing and utilities added 500 jobs.

CITY TALK: Will slow pace of change become Savannah election issue?

I’ve been writing about crime in Savannah off and on for 15 years, and this could be a watershed moment of widespread discontent when real change is possible.

Or not.

CITY TALK: Residential development on fringes of downtown

Residential development is planned for the north side of the 300 block of West Gwinnett Street on the southern edge of the Landmark Historic District.

The project has been scrutinized at the most recent meetings of the Historic District Board of Review, and a variety of changes are in the works in response to concerns about the massing of the buildings, design details and other issues.

CITY TALK: Savannah's draft food-truck ordinances opens some doors, closes others

City of Savannah officials have been hosting a series of public meetings about a proposed ordinance that would dramatically expand the options for food trucks in Savannah.

According to city officials, Savannah has 16 active food trucks.

CITY TALK: Savannah highlighted at its best — and worst

Saturday was a remarkable day in Savannah. The Savannah Philharmonic kicked off its season in grand style at the Lucas Theatre with featured soloist Joseph Conyers, a Savannah native who is a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Despite the rain, Savannah Pride attracted thousands to Forsyth Park.

Revival Fest

CITY TALK: Ordinary Pub brings casual dining, drinking to Broughton St.

The Ordinary Pub at 217 1/2 West Broughton St. has been open for two months, but the business just got its liquor license recently. That news prompted a friend and me to check out the new spot.

CITY TALK: Marc by Marc Jacobs leaves Broughton

The Marc by Marc Jacobs store on Broughton Street closed recently. I’ve learned over the years of writing this column that it’s difficult sometimes to know why businesses have closed. But not in this case. 

Sales associate Micah Bunn bags some merchandise at the Marc Jacobs clothing store on Broughton Street.

CITY TALK: Is it time to talk traffic calming in downtown Savannah?

On a recent Saturday afternoon, a car with out-of-state plates was parked in front of a house on Whitaker Street a few blocks south of Anderson Street.

Oddly, that particular block doesn’t have a no parking sign. There is fresh yellow paint along the curb near the next cross street, but none in the middle of the block where the car was parked.

CITY TALK: Job numbers are still generally strong

The unemployment rate for the Savannah metro area (Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties) has trended slightly higher over the last couple of months, but the increase can be attributed to predictable seasonal trends.

CITY TALK: Street fair brings new visitors to Wells Park

When I arrived at the big street fair last Saturday in Wells Park, a handful of protestors were sharing their objections to the entire event with the aid of a megaphone.

The “Cool Communities in Hot Savannah” fair was sponsored by the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority, but the protestors’ anger was directed more broadly at city government’s neglect of the neighborhood.

CITY TALK: Street fair brings new visitors to Wells Park

CITY TALK: Savannah's Hang Fire is on the move, but we don't know where

Hang Fire’s lease at 37 Whitaker St. expires at the end of the month, so the owners have announced a party for Aug. 29. The 11 acts slated to perform include the first band the bar hosted — the iconic Savannah rock band Superhorse.

CITY TALK: New restaurant, Bo Bien Hut, comes to Tybee with new concept

On a recent Tuesday evening, a friend and I drove to Tybee Island to check out Bo Bien Hut, the Asian fusion restaurant that opened in July. Sure, it’s still August, but the summer beach bustle has already faded. The vacation season isn’t entirely over, but with many schools back in session, Tybee is a lot quieter than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Photo via

CITY TALK: A wonky preview of the 2015 Savannah city election

Savannah city elections are less than three months away, and here’s City Talk’s wonky overview. Of the nine sitting council members, all are running for re-election except for Alderman At-Large Tom Bordeaux.