Halt on new hotels to be voted on Thursday at Council

SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – City council will vote this week to stall any more proposals to bring new hotels into the downtown area.

This possible halt on new hotels comes after worries that more and more development could turn away the next generation of homeowners from wanting to live in the downtown area.

“The reason we can do this is not to just stop hotel development, but we’re trying to change the zoning on hotels so we can limit the size of hotels going into residential neighborhoods.”

Concerns about hotels encroaching more and more into the Historic Landmark District have led to the city thinking about holding off on approving any more builds.

“If you just have more and more hotels, then you have less and less of what people come here to see. You also have more and more transients.”

They will vote this week to pause any new builds to give them time to rework zoning laws.

“There’s always some concern that any kind of moratorium on any issue looks like it’s anti-business and we don’t want that. We are not trying to create an anti-business environment, but by the same token we want to try to protect these residential neighborhoods from large hotel properties.”

Neighborhoods like the Landmark district, along Forsyth park where residents pushed backed on a hotel development. The city denied a five-story hotel approval to build last fall.

“I think a pause for a time of study to understand what it is we really want as a community is incredibly important before we make decisions that may have lasting and unintended effects,” says Tourism Leadership Council president Michael Owens whose office has come out in favor of the pause.

The city wants to use the freeze to create two new hotel categories, small and large, that way it can define what development will be allowed in residential zoned areas of downtown. If the freeze is approved, Owens hopes the city makes changes based on numbers and not only input from neighbors.

“If it’s a parking alleviation, I’m afraid that the math on that simply doesn’t work. I think we have real problems and challenges as a community that we face and we need to face them in a responsible way that’s based on data and best practices as opposed to an emotional idea that we quote have too many hotels.”

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