Urban Planning, Savannah style

Savannah Adds to the Master Plan of 1733 - New York Times

The city of Savannah, GA is expanding with the Savannah River Landing project, an $800 million, 54 acre, mixed-use development. Their plan creates public open space, housing, retail space, and offices. Sounds a lot like the North Allston Strategic Framework!

"With a conventional master plan, which often foresees all of the buildings from Day 1,” said Christian Sottile, a Savannah-based urban planner and teacher of urban planning and design at the Savannah College of Art, “you freeze in time the mix of uses. This is the opposite. It’s town-building. The streets come first, public spaces come first, and the blocks become spaces for building, which are not prescribed. It’s highly unusual for American cities.”

The developer is planning to build more than two million square feet of new space, including 2 hotels; 150,000 square feet of prime office space; 200,000 square feet of retail space; 4 condo buildings; 17 riverfront estates; and 110 town homes. The city is also extending the historic river walk by 2,000 feet.

The unbuilt land interspersed throughout all the development — amounting to nearly half of the overall property — will be deeded back to the city by the development company for public use. Plans for it include the creation of six town squares, to be planted with 40-foot Southern live oak trees.

“Savannah has one of the great plans in the world,” the architect Alexander Gorlin said. “The squares give you this breath of greenery every few blocks."

“By continuing the historic city plan to the east,” she said, “what we’re doing is expanding downtown. We’re not creating a pod development that could have a negative impact on downtown. If we had allowed an Anytown U.S.A. shopping development, we would have set a precedent for the future that would have etched away at the heart of Savannah.

“Instead, we have the bone structure in downtown Savannah laid out in 1733 that set the pace not just for roads and squares, but mixed-use development. That has made the city so unique, healthy and vital all these years.”

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