East Riverfront Extension

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Location: Savannah, Georgia. Riverfront at edge of Historic City Center

The City of Savannah, Georgia identified a large tract of formerly industrial vacant land along the boundary of its Historic City Center for eastward Downtown Expansion. At that time, the property was held by multiple development interests, each of whom had begun development plans for their individual parcels. The first goal was to successfully grow the historic city core of Savannah, Georgia after 155 years. The second goal was a physical framework that would allow the new district to evolve into a thriving and authentic urban extension.

The Civic Master Plan for the East Riverfront Expansion was implemented by the City of Savannah in 2006. It defines 54 acres that are located to the immediate east of Savannah's National Landmark Historic District along the Savannah River. The new city streets, parks, public spaces, and 2000 foot river walk extension are currently under construction. The initial private sector build out is expected in 10 years at an estimated cost of 800 million dollars. However, the significance of the Civic Master Plan is not the magnitude of the current development effort, but in the longevity of the public realm that is created through a joint commitment between th City, the Design Community, and the Private Sector.

The Civic Master Plan is the result of a five year long planning process and was officially adopted in 2006, resulting in an agreement between the City and the Owner through which the owner agreed to build the streets, parks, and public spaces in accordance with the Urban Design specifications detailed within the plan, and dedicate them to the City upon their completion.

The City in turn granted an unconventional zoning entitlement, helped establish a Tax Allocation District, and agreed to extend the existing river walk along the East Riverfront. The developer began construction on site work, infrastructure, and public streets and parks in early 2007. The City began construction on the river walk extension in January of 2008. Initial construction in the new district has been projected to span 10 years, though as Savannah approaches its fourth century of life, it should continue to evolve and change well beyond that time frame and into the centuries beyond.

The merits of the Civic Master Plan include a clear identification and an absolute distinction between the public and private realm. The municipality charts out the public realm in precise detail requiring the developer/owner to dedicate a large portion of their land holdings to the city for public streets, parks, and squares. The developer/owner is in turn granted autonomy in determining land use, density, and ownership patterns. The urban form within the private blocks is positioned from the beginning to evolve organically and authentically over time within the framework of a well-dispersed public realm that is human scaled, walkable, and promotes a high quality of life and civic continuum.

Transect Zone(s): T4 general, T5 center, T6 core.
Status: 26-50% Built
Project or Plan's Scale: District
Features: Civic buildings & parks, Mixed uses, Waterfront.
Land area (in acres): 54
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 800
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work):
Civic uses (type and size): Trust block reserve sites, 6 public squares (1-1.5 acres each)
Parks & green space (in acres):
Residential types: Townhouse/rowhouse/maisonette, Semi-detached, Small lot detached, Live/work.
Project team designers: Sottile & Sottile, Urban Design; Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates; Reed Hilderbrand Associates; Sasaki Associates; LandPlan Partnership; Ken Tate Architect; Alexander Gorlin; Historical Concepts; Thomas & Denzinger; McAlpine Tankersley; Summerour Architecture; Pak-Heydt; Thomas & Hutton Engineering
Project team developers: The City of Savannah; The Ambling Companies, The Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission; The Savannah Development & Renewal Authority

Previous site status: Brownfield (former industrial)

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: 2007 -