SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Last Thursday, the city council approved the fairgrounds property for affordable housing seven to two—the two against expressing concern over the developers that would build the property 

And over the weekend, residents gathered at the fairgrounds to express their concerns saying the decision was made unfairly. 

Mayor Van Johnson responded today saying that the primary purpose for purchasing the fairgrounds property was to build housing among other things and made that clear to residents of the fifth district when he served as alderman years ago.

“Council bullied a vote, rushed a vote when we had residents community leaders who were saying can we just delay it a couple of weeks and have a conversation…they were ultimately ignored,” said 5th District candidate Robert Bryant.  

5th District candidate Dr. Robert Bryant from Saturday spoke on the concerns some 5th District residents have with plans for affordable housing coming to the old fairgrounds property and feel that their input is not being heard.

On Tuesday, Mayor Johnson addressed the event from over the weekend.

 “I’ve been clear and consistent from day one,” Johnson said. “I think that the residents were clear that they did not necessarily want low-income housing there…I get that. But we’re talking about senior housing there.” 

The land slated for affordable housing will hit a big goal for the city as they rapidly try to buy land and get the tax credits needed to make affordable housing a possibility.

Johnson went on to say, “Tax credits that will hopefully be approved. Will provide 104 units of affordable housing. We aim for about 200 a year or so and so this significantly gets us towards that goal.”

Johnson also touched on the difficulty of building affordable housing because the developers’ only goal in mind is making money and a profit not helping an affordable housing crisis. 

“The goal, of course, is to make money. We’re in a race against time because every single property no matter how big or small…if we don’t get it. If we don’t get someone to develop it. If we’re not able to leverage funds for it. If we’re not able to get tax credits for it…then it falls in the hands of private developers,” Johnson explained. 

And plans for affordable housing within the fairgrounds have been talked about for years now when a portion of the land was approved specifically for that back in 2021, and that motion passed unanimously.