SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – After years of construction and planning, Savannah’s newest entertainment district is officially open to the public.
The Plant Riverside District has everything from shopping and dining, to special events and rooftop views.
Richard Kessler, the CEO of Kessler Enterprises, says it started with a dream and after eight years that dream is finally coming true.
“It’s very satisfying in that I always like to leave things better than I found it and so hopefully I did that here and I beleive I have,” said Kessler.
The $350+ million dollar development site has four and a half acres right on the Savannah River, including a riverfront park with a commemorative statue to Martin Luther King Jr. Dining experiences include the District Smokehouse, District Seafood, Riverside Sushi, Riverfront Biergarten, and more.
Mayor Van Johnson calls the district a “modern wonder” that still pays homage to its past.
“No one can doubt the redevelopment of West River street has forever changed this landscape and we are blessed today to see it happen,” said Johnson.
On the inside stands a massive, chrome-dipped dinosaur skeleton replica, a pre-historic tortoise shell, and an adult playground with life-size board games. There’s also an outdoor cinema, a pipe organ with daily performances, and a children’s tour led by Dusty the Dino Ranger.
The new development is expected to bring hundreds of new job opportunities to the City. Kessler tells News 3 he plans to hire more than 700 people over the next 12 months.
The pandemic cut 13 million dollars out of the city’s budget, leaders say driving tourism demand could be Savannah’s lifeline.
“It’s going to get worldwide appeal, it already has,” said Mike Owens, President of the Tourism Leadership Council. “That’s positive focus, that’s positive attention in our community in frankly a time where we desperately need the positive attention.”