Tomato sandwiches and sweet tea awaited the interested crowd inside the cavernous hall of the Old Clipper Trading building. “Broughton St.” was the phrase on everybody’s lips, more specifically the developments that Atlanta developer Ben Carter was soon to unveil. Easels and display boards, enshrined in decorative ferns, promised of a more walkable, shoppable, and artable Broughton St.
Ben Carter Enterprises is planning to develop a nationally renowned shopping district in downtown Savannah. The project, estimated at $75 Million will include the purchase and total renovation of 25 buildings, a street-scape renovation project, the creation of 800+ jobs, and a focus on the creative class.
Ben Carter spent a good amount of time speaking excitedly about integrating the arts into this million dollar project. Art fairs, sculptures, performing arts, and street art were all spoken of with a refreshing enthusiasm, especially considering the debilitatingly strict historical guidelines that have restricted the display of Savannah’s true creative talent.
The shift has begun. The amount of money and clout that Ben Carter Enterprises carries and their desire to crack open the creativity of the community to make for a more livable and shop-able city will not be ignored by Savannah politicians.
Van Johnson rose to the podium and used the word, “game changer” almost immediately. He also mentioned that the council has now recognized that Savannah is and wants to be a “walking city,” an urban destination. “Live urban, that’s where America is going,” said Carter. He recognized the draw of SCAD and the largest historic district in America as being incredibly unique across the spectrum.
These projects will begin in a rolling fashion, each building being worked on as the contract and purchase agreements close.
America is beginning to turn an eye towards Savannah and that eye has lots of capital behind it. The developments popping up around downtown are not a disconnected cacophony nor an orchestrated overtaking of the local culture. Big business has been recognizing Savannah as a thriving city far from it’s goal, but capable of great success. We like to think the same.