Savannah City Council approves plan for old fairgrounds property

USA, Georgia, Savannah, City skyline by river

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ByTyler Manion

Published:Oct. 28, 2021 at 11:09 PM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah City Council voted on a number of large projects for the city’s future Thursday night - including the fairgrounds, affordable housing and youth programs.

The Savannah City council faced a much anticipated decision. Would they approve the only remaining proposal for the Savannah Fairgrounds site after decades without action?

“Item number 16 - the development of the fairgrounds property.”

Years of waiting came to an end Thursday night.

“As stated all in favor please indicate by showing your hands. Opposed. Motion passes,” said Mayor Van Johnson.

Savannah City Council unanimously voted to authorize City Manager Jay Melder to negotiate a contract with the P3 Venture Group to develop the historic Fairgrounds Property.

Their proposal divides the land like this: 20 and a half acres for wetlands and trails, 18.3 acres for multi-purpose fields, 14.5 acres for homes and retail, 6.2 acres for a production studio and career development, and 11.4 acres for public spaces and parking.

Mayor Van Johnson explains that this was the only remaining option, based on Melder’s criteria.

“Based on his assessment of the three firms that two of them failed to meet all 10 compulsories and so therefore disqualified them from further consideration.”

Johnson acknowledges this council wasn’t around to deal with this issue decades ago, but says now is their time to act intentionally.

“We weren’t there with the fairgrounds, whatever goes in after will be on us. So my conversations with people in and around there are make sure you know what you are asking for.”

The fairgrounds vote wasn’t the only thing to be passed Thursday night. City council also passed a motion to make Juneteenth a paid city holiday starting in 2022.

City Council also met with the REAL Savannah Task Force. The task force presented recommendations to council on how to improve racial equity in Savannah, during the two hour meeting.

City Manager Jay Melder said he will include several of their ideas into his 2022 budget proposal to council, including the implementation of an equity officer and greater investments into affordable housing.

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