Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Preservation Tuesday: Next month's NTHP Annual Meeting is in Savannah

Sadly, I don't think I'll be able to make next month's national meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  It's in Savannah, which is a great place to visit.

The meeting is from Tuesday November 11th to Friday November 14th.  Many of the field sessions are sold out.

-- Conference Program

If you haven't been to an NTHP* meeting, I highly recommend going, as attendance can accelerate significantly your knowledge of urban revitalization, especially if you on some great tours.  It's been many years since I've attended one, but I have gone to meetings in Cleveland, Louisville, Portland, St. Paul, and Pittsburgh and I learned so much from each meeting, tours, independent explorations while there, using their transit systems, and staying for the most part in distinctive lodgings..

(*The annual meetings of the American Planning Association and the National Main Street Center are equally worthwhile.  Because these meetings move around the country, it's not too hard to attend one of the meetings when they make it to your part of the country.)

Savannah is known for being an early example of historic preservation based urban revitalization, and preservation makes up a big chunk of the story in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which has stoked tourism there.

There are some great restaurants and retailers, although I have to admit, the last time I was there I was surprised to see how much of the downtown retail district was under-utilized.  (The Leopold's ice cream shop is over rated.)

The Old Historic District is very large, the parks and squares are beautiful.  River Street is a tourist dive and not that interesting.

The city also has some interesting transportation demand management initiatives focused on mitigating negative impacts from tourism (case study within this document).

My experience with the visitor center is that they weren't all that friendly, which was notable because most visitor centers have very engaging personnel.

One of the interesting contemporary stories there is how the Savannah College of Art and Design has spurred revitalization, both in terms of the economic impact of the college and the students, as well as the properties that the college has renovated.

However, interestingly, the founders of the college own the properties separately and personally, rather than the properties being owned by the college.  See "What Art-School Kids In Savannah Teach Us About Urban Renewal" from Fast Company, "The empire SCAD built" from the Savannah Morning News" and the SCAD study on economic impact of the college.

Recent articles on Savannah

1.  The New York Times Travel section has a nice feature, "Savannah, Both Sides."

2.  The Wall Street Journal has a piece, "Savannah Preservationists Stymie a Developer's Comeback," communicating the displeasure of real estate developers who have acquired a bunch of properties on Broughton Street of having to deal with historic preservation concerns.

3.  The WSJ Magazine mentions the restaurant, The Grey, which is located in the old Greyhound bus station, which is undergoing renovation, so the restaurant is not yet open.

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