Engineers unveil master plan for Savannah’s Canal District

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Plans to revitalize Savannah’s westside are moving forward. On Wednesday, designers behind the Canal District Master Plan showed off their extensive vision for the future.

They hosted the meeting at Savannah’s new Cultural Arts Center on Montgomery Street.

Developers from Perkins and Will — the firm hired by the city — say the designs are first drafts. Feedback from two days of public meetings will influence future designs and plans.

Engineers say they created the plan based on extensive research on the history of the districts, existing nature, and the surrounding community.

Engineers specifically mentioned they would prefer that future arena-goers heavily utilize public transportation, ride-sharing applications and ‘green’ modes of transportation to attend events.

Designers also took time to explain proposed green spaces, street expansions, neighborhood programs, and solutions to flooding, which have historically been a problem on Savannah’s westside.

To alleviate part of the burden on the community, Perkins and Will suggests the city create district-wide employment programs and create an agency to protect the community and tackle local problems.

There are questions though about the availability of parking, how the city can afford every recommendation, and how developers plan to help neighborhoods the master plan does not specifically mention.

“We are not in the area of the arena per say,” said Tonia Miller, a longtime resident of Savannah’s Hudson Hill neighborhood. “How does it affect us with the growth in that area?”

A line of people formed at the end of the presentation to ask questions and provide the board feedback on the current design.

“We need more of a timeline,” said Miller, who also argues the firm is not doing enough to make their plan available to the public.

Representatives say they are working on making it more readily accessible online and on social media.

Wednesday’s presentation is part of a two-day summit for meetings with community leaders and associations.

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