SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah City Council has approved nearly $10 million more in funding to go toward the Savannah Arena project.
The Savannah Arena is expected to be mostly completed by December with the hopes of opening by February, but some council members have issues with the $9 million parking lot that was approved during Thursday’s meeting.
As the Savannah Arena pushes for a February open date, City Manager Michael Brown said through many challenges a lot of progress has been made.
“By doing those early bids we saved $30 million because we have those contracts in place. People have to be our supplier at the prices we’ve agreed upon,” Brown said.
He said the city has also been working to overcome schedule challenges caused by lack of the materials available due to supply-chain disruptions that were caused by COVID-19 shutdowns and the Texas snowstorm.
“Every project always has it’s challenges,” Brown said.
But as the project moves forward, there are many more projects that need to be completed. Council members voted to approve four items Thursday to build a 2,000 space parking lot, add lighting to the lot, a pedestrian bridge over the canal, and a rigging fall protection system for workers setting up shows.
Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter is concerned with the price of the parking lot as it’s being leased for the next 10 years.
“I think it’s the biggest example of corporate welfare ever in the history of municipal government here in Savannah in that we are essentially putting $10 million in the ground,” Gibson-Carter said.
Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier added that the she has residents in her district that’s already experiencing drainage issues from the project and doesn’t want to see these problems continue when the parking lot is built.
“So we’re going to have to make sure we figure out a way to increase the drainage maintenance. We’re talking the ditches and we’re talking the piping or whatever it takes to do the preventative maintenance to make sure the water can run off properly,” Lanier said.
The city manager said that the arena and the parking lot should pay for themselves with help from the people that use them.