The Kessler Collection Debuts $375 Million Redevelopment Creating Savannah's New Entertainment District

Staff Report

Friday, July 31st, 2020

The Kessler Collection's Plant Riverside District – the largest redevelopment in the history of Savannah's National Historic Landmark District – has officially opened as "Savannah's Entertainment District," a $375 million project expanding the city's iconic riverfront to a 4.5-acre waterfront hospitality and entertainment destination, anchored by the 419-room JW Marriott Savannah hotel. 

"Plant Riverside District is my career legacy and gift to my hometown of Savannah," said Richard Kessler, Chairman and CEO of The Kessler Collection. "The project brings new life to Savannah's riverfront with world-class entertainment, curated galleries, over a dozen dining options and jaw-dropping natural science exhibits for all ages. It's truly a unique visitor experience and the first of its kind in the southeast."

The ribbon cutting ceremony was held today along with speeches from Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and Mayor Van Johnson. According to Mayor Johnson, "In place of a generator that once produced electricity, Richard's vision created a new generator – an economic driver that provides 600 to 800 new jobs and new tax revenues for local governments." The ceremony was celebrated with show-stopping performances by brass bands, dancers, and entertainers from jugglers to living statues performing to synchronized music. Key executives from The Kessler Collection, development partners Sottile & Sottile, AECOM/Hunt Construction and artist Franco Castelluccio, who was commissioned to sculpt a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. for the riverfront park, were in attendance.

The development features more than a dozen restaurants and lounges, including Baobab Lounge, an upscale parlor rooted in African culture; Electric Moon, a high-energy rooftop bar with slides from deck to terrace, electrifying cocktails, small plates and lively music; and Graffito, an authentic Neapolitan-style pizzeria. The quarter mile extension of new riverwalk offers open-air riverfront dining at District Smokehouse, District Seafood, and Riverfront Biergarten, the latter in partnership with Savannah-based Service Brewing. Entertainment experiences built around local culture and music create a lively riverwalk 'streetmosphere' featuring cirque entertainers.

Visitors also have access to an art gallery, riverfront park honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and natural science exhibits that spark imagination for all ages – think: a 135-foot chrome-dipped dinosaur; oversized geodes, gemstones and fossils; a pre-historic tortoise shell; an Ice Age bear; and the world's largest nugget of Copper. Daily experiential programming includes family-friendly scavenger hunts, a dinosaur dig area, mindful flow yoga classes on the Electric Moon terrace, and noon performances from a 7 ft. pipe organ on the Beethoven Terrace, just to name a few.

The unrivaled entertainment destination is Savannah's fifth official district and allows guests to experience two unique hotels within the JW Marriott Savannah for a customized atmosphere to match their style: romantic and elegant styling in the Three Muses building and historic chic architecture in the Power Plant building.

Fall unveils Phase II with Stone & Webster Chophouse, a stylish upscale restaurant featuring aged steaks and fresh seafood with an exceptional wine list; Myrtle & Rose, a secret libation lounge with a poetic twist and Savannah Tequila Co., a tequila bar and cantina combining traditional and modern takes on Mexican cuisine. Phase III of Plant Riverside District, coming Spring 2021, debuts the third mixed-use hotel building within the complex dubbed The Atlantic, themed around bold and contemporary maritime details. The finished district will feature Live Music Venue, a concert venue with acts by Live Nation and Compass Pool Lounge, a rooftop pool with breathtaking views of the Savannah River.