The Savannah City Council just voted to eliminate minimum lot size requirements on downtown streets, allowing developers to squeeze more residential units into the upper floors of buildings throughout downtown. These changes eliminate the previous requirement of 600 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit for each building in the defined area.
Limiting dwelling units based on lot area is appropriate for some areas of the city, but the restriction can be a hindrance along Broughton, where density is a benefit and the height of buildings is limited primarily to four stories and there are few undeveloped lots, said Marcus Lotson, planning commission development services planner.
Many new developments have already been waiting for this kind of change. One example is Ben Carter’s planned $75 million investment along the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Lincoln Street corridor.
In addition to retail stores planned for the ground levels, Carter plans to turn the upper floors of recently acquired Broughton Street properties into about 100 urban-style loft apartments, offices and creative spaces for students and young professionals.
There are no requirements that off-street parking be provided for the residences, but developers typically provide such amenities on their own to attract tenants. In addition, a lot of the people who choose to live downtown are less dependent on their vehicles, he said.
This change coincides with a growing national trend in America of people wanting to move back to the urban cores. This will undoubtedly bring new young professionals and businesses to the Savannah area.
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