SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Ritz Carlton, overlooking city hall and River Street, is set to occupy Johnson Square at the adjoining buildings of 2 E. Bryan Street and 14 E. Bryan Street.
The Savannah Historic District Board, part of the Chatham County-Savannah Historic Metropolitan Commission (MPC), approved plans for the Ritz at their Oct. 11 meeting.
The plan would transform the building on 2 E. Bryan St. into a 100-room hotel, and build 20 residences in the 14 E. Bryan St. building.
The plan also entails a rooftop pool, lounge, and outdoor restaurant.
Savannah Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter (Post 1 At-Large) told News 3 that she welcomes growth and development, especially the jobs that come with it, as long our they are serving Savannahians well.
“We know a product like Ritz Carlton — they have their own set of unique values when it comes to maintaining who they are as a corporation,” said Gibson-Carter, “So we want to make sure our residents are not just picked upon to clean toilets and make beds, we want them to be executives within the corporation and would like for them to be decision-makers.”
She says she has concerns about the displacement of some of the businesses inside the building, something she says has been a recurring theme with recent growth in Savannah.
“The level of forced displacement — the maximum growth and development that is occurring and adversely affecting marginalized communities, middle-class and upper-class citizens are not exempt from it,” said Gibson-Carter.
Gibson-Carter also says she fears the upscale hotel may disrupt Savannah’s well-preserved historic aesthetic.
“What does a backdrop like this say in who we are as Savannah and who we are as Savannahian?” she adds.
Melanie Wilson, executive director for the MPC, told News 3 that MPC has fielded calls and inquiries about the Ritz, some she said are of concern about what will happen to the original building.
She gave News 3 the following statement, saying the original building is not going anywhere, it’s just getting re-vamped:
“This is a rehabilitation of the building, a small part that will have additional renovations, but not a new build.”
Wilson also told News 3 that the building used to be a hotel, and now it is being restored to its original state.
It is unclear when work could begin on the Ritz Carlton, or when it could possibly open.