Arena-Canal District Tour Highlights Future Growth

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Friday, July 14th, 2017

The City of Savannah continues to move forward with its plans to build a new Savannah Arena, which will be located just southwest of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach, City Manager Rob Hernandez and Assistant City Manager Peter Shonka led members of the media on a two-hour tour of the arena site and other city-owned property that will be transformed into the new Canal District and public-private development partnerships.

The planned new arena, to be funded with voter-approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, will be located between Louisville Road and Gwinnett Street west of West Boundary Street.

The arena project will also include the renovation of the City’s historic Water Works building. The 19,000-square-foot Water Works building was built in 1892 to serve the Savannah area water supply. The masonry structure, which is an example of turn-of-the century industrial architecture, will be preserved and used for meeting and event space.

The Arena will be located within the larger Canal District – 120 acres of mostly vacant land that will include a system of parks, water features and recreational fields that will connect the National Historic Landmark District with the Historic Carver Heights neighborhood. This would include approximately three miles of walking and biking trails, nearly of mile of recreational boating along the Springfield Canal and sports activity fields.

Mayor DeLoach said, “We are going to build an arena here the people can be proud of and put facilities around it that people will be proud of.”

In addition to providing connectivity and new development, improving the existing Springfield Canal will help reduce flooding in large areas of Savannah’s westside.

“I think we can develop this Canal District and Arena in a way that we improve drainage and preserve our history,” Shonka said. “We are going to bring MLK and Carver Heights into this arena area and this will be an extension of the downtown area.”

The City already has the funding to build the arena. Funding the additional projects could come from public-private partnerships, bonds, or future SPLOST funding.

“All this is going together but it’s going to take a big lift, it’s a huge lift but this is a project that will change what Savannah is,” Mayor DeLoach said.