It was groundbreaking for a project that some in the City of Savannah worried might never happen. But now they say “Eastern Wharf” promises to be bigger and better than they imagined.
“I think we’re going to end up with a super project that’s a lot better than anybody anticipated,” said Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.
The name “Eastern Wharf” is seen as a tribute to the history of the area — the east end of River Street near the Marriott Hotel. A river walk already exists in the area, but there are no developments to see.
Leaders say while the name is an acknowledgment of history, this project is all about celebrating the future of the city.
Construction work on the 54-acre site is already taking place. It will include a mix of retail, office space and housing as well as a hotel, two parking ramps and the promise of lots of green space and a public park.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for us as builders to have 2,000 feet of river frontage next to the historic Savannah District,” said Trent Germano from Mariner Group.
He says the housing, in particular, is an effort to have people not only visit the area but live there.
“It will not be a gated community it will be completely open we’ll have public parks and public space and we expect and hope that people walk right down River Walk,” said Germano.
The first phase of Eastern Wharf is expected to cost over $200 million, financed by private dollars. It’s expected all this will enhance a project now being built at the opposite end of River Street (the Kessler project at the site of the old Georgia Power facility).
“By the time we do this east side and we finish up that west side Savannah’s going to be twice as long as far as riverfront properties that are sitting here it’s going to really add a lot of features that we don’t have now,” said Mayor DeLoach.
The City of Savannah is kicking in about $30 million to build one parking garage. A second garage is also planned but will be paid for by developers.
The mayor says the project should also provide jobs as well as needed housing near downtown.
Mariner Group is developing the housing and retail space while another company, Regent Partners will build the hotel and office space. ELV Associates is the investment partner for the private development.