SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Once a bustling home for storefronts on the Southside, the Savannah Mall has long lacked the tender love and care needed to keep up — and now, it’s once again being put up for auction.

“I know that there have been talks in the past when the mall was up for sale to purchase the mall by the city, and you know, things fell through,” said District 6 Alderman Kurtis Purtee.

“It just wasn’t in the heart of city council then, and city staff,” he continued. “And I think now is the time to level that playing field, especially for the downtown tourist area. It’s time for the Southside residents to be able to reap some of those benefits.”

Alderman Purtee says he’d like to see the city purchase the structure and transform it into a much-needed community center for the Southside.

His vision is a space for housing, retail, green space, an amphitheater and even the Southside police precinct.

“Looking at economic growth, housing development, recreational development and, really, a way for people to have a life and live as though they were living downtown,” Purtee explained. “You know, when all this development kind’ve pushed through downtown, it started to push folks to the Midtown, and then on to the Southside, and the folks on the Southside are just as flustered because we don’t have the same city services as downtown has.”

Though Purtee and other council members have yet to come to an agreement on whether the city will even make an attempt to purchase the property, he says the opportunity to bring various resources to the Southside would benefit the city as a whole.

And this is something the city will regret if the property isn’t properly utilized, he believes.

“I don’t need to throw something out there to get re-elected to say ‘Look what I did for you,’ this is something that I believe will benefit folks on the Southside for years and years and years,” Purtee said. “And to me, it’s about sustainability and vitality.

“And if we can’t put those together and create again, my three terms that I always use — accessibility, opportunity and connectivity — we’re gonna lose out and all we’re doing is hurting our folks here in the community.”

The Savannah Mall officially goes up for auction on Aug. 8 and is currently listed for $2.5M.

Purtee says that the project could take roughly a decade to complete if the city were to purchase the land.