Ivory Bay leads West Savannah Design Partnership with AIA and City

Staff Report

Friday, July 8th, 2022

The American Institute of Architects has accepted the communities of West Savannah into its Communities by Design (CxD) program. The Ivory Bay Community Development Corporation is leading the

initiative in which the AIA’s Design Assistance Teams (DAT), in partnership with the City of Savannah, will create a master plan that outlines strategies intended to help West Savannah’s multi-generational residents to remain in their neighborhoods.

“For generations, the citizens of West Savannah’s neighborhoods have built a rich community tradition and narrative that gives profound voice to the American experience,” says Erin Simmons, Senior Director for AIA Design Assistance. “Our design assistance team is looking forward to working hand in hand with citizens and civic leaders to build a plan for the future that honors that tradition and the values it epitomizes.”

Ivory Bay CDC enlisted the Communities by Design Program to elevate their call for community benefits, such as affordable housing development, relief from environmental threats, and investments in local economic engines, as spelled out in the City of Savannah’s Canal District Plan.

“We are extremely fortunate to be selected to participate in the program,” says Bridget Lidy, AICP, director of planning and urban design for the City of Savannah. “The event will provide opportunities to address systemic challenges and identify recommendations to ensure future success of our development efforts.”

Ivory Bay founder, Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier of District 1, says this groundbreaking community design initiative prioritizes the needs of West Savannah neighborhoods that have experienced economic divestment, displacement and environmental injustice.

“The AIA is a renowned professional organization dedicated to helping low-wealth communities transform by designing for better outcomes,” says Alderwoman Lanier. “Residents in Westside neighborhoods desperately need the services of the AIA.”

“The AIA process is a very productive way for a community to ask the question, ‘Can we do a more effective job of reimagining parts of the community to make them more sustainable and inclusive?’ says Roland Anglin, Team Leader. “I have been part of many AIA teams. The quality of the report back is such that communities often find well-thought through recommendations ready for implementation.”

As the DAT meets with residents and stakeholders, the program’s goal is “to create an action plan with phased, implementable recommendations for the future,” the program description explains. The community- driven, intensive process strives to integrate the entire community into plan implementation that matches the neighborhood’s values and aspirations with professional expertise.