Local business owners feel forgotten in new Waters Avenue Enhancement Project

Local News

The City of Savannah announced Monday they will soon be entering into phase two of their multi-million dollar Waters Avenue Streetscape project.

This phase of the project includes new sidewalks, ADA compliant crossing locations, new greenscape enhancements, an ornamental neighborhood signpost, and decorative street lighting.

In addition to cosmetic improvements, the city is also trying to get more businesses and investors to develop in the area.

But, not everyone is excited about what’s to come. News 3 talked to some small business owners who said they feel like they’re being left out.

“The only communication we’ve had with the city has been you know if we’ve taken the initiative to track someone down,” said Alex Bender, Creative Director of Lex Apparel on Waters Avenue. 

Bender and his team at Lex started their business a year ago. He thinks the Waters Avenue improvement project needs to go further and address issues like excessive trash in the street.

“Its one thing to invest money in a certain area, put new crosswalks in, you know re-do the sidewalks, but it doesn’t end there,” Bender said. “You can’t just go in and put a Band-Aid on it and ignore the rest of it.”

At one time, the area was a thriving commercial corridor. 

“We’ve seen an opportunity to bring that back the community around it has really rallied behind the effort and we hope some streetscape improvements and again some investment from the city,  that the private market will come in,” said Manny Dominguez.

Dominguez is the Director of Business opportunity for the City of Savannah. He said community input has been important since day one.

“We, as much as possible, whenever a big project like this is coming online we try to work with an existing community and the businesses in the area because we know that there are short term impacts,” said Dominguez.

But, Eddie Collins, who owns Fly Jay’s on Waters said he and other business owners know very little about what’s going on.

“We need a liaison from the city to the people and that’s not happening right now,” he said. “You know, we don’t know where meetings are being held.”

Bender tells News 3 that information about the project has been slow traveling to business owners in the area.

“It would be beneficial if city leaders or individuals who are behind these projects who are involved with money would come down and get our take on it,” he added.

Construction is set to begin as soon as next week — causing road closures on Waters Avenue from Anderson Street to Henry Street.

Bender tells News 3 he’s taking some matters into his own hands. He plans to organize a community clean up to get rid of the trash.

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