Parker’s recently announced plans to build a new Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Parker’s Kitchen on a 3.4-acre commercial site located at the corner of DeRenne Ave. and White Bluff Rd.
The Parker Companies, which is the parent company for the Parker’s and Parker’s Kitchen brands, serves as the developer for the site, which is expected to open in summer 2022. The Pinyan Company in Savannah serves as the lead contractor for site construction.
After much public speculation and concern, it was announced the site will incorporate the existing 60-foot metal globe, which previously served as a Savannah Gas Co. natural gas storage tank in the 1950s.
The giant globe will anchor the parcel, which is located at one of Savannah’s most high-traffic intersections.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to develop this underutilized site and to preserve the globe, which is an iconic landmark for many Savannah residents,” said Parker’s founder and CEO Greg Parker. “We listened to the public throughout the planning process and have made a significant investment to save the globe and to develop this long-neglected site in a more thoughtful, strategic way. Our customers know that we have an unwavering commitment to quality and a powerful connection to the communities we serve. We look forward to transforming this former eyesore into a gateway to Savannah that will meet the needs of today’s residents and visitors.”
“At Parker’s, we have a strong commitment to give back to every community where we operate stores and a powerful desire to make a positive impact. Our goal is to revitalize the corner of DeRenne and White Bluff, and we decided to make the additional investment to preserve a small piece of Savannah history.”
The newest Parker’s Kitchen in Savannah will be the company’s 75th retail store and will offer popular grab-and-go options as well as a hot bar with signature items like Southern fried chicken tenders and savory mac ‘n’ cheese, fresh-made salads, gourmet coffee, freshly brewed sweet tea, beer, fountain drinks with Chewy Ice, fuel and a wide range of convenience items.
Nick Palumbo, Savannah City Council, District 4, has been a vocal advocate for those wanting to save the cherished Savannah landmark.
“It is saved! It is saved for the next generation. It’s had a great life since 1955 and because it is and was painted as this globe and used as an advertising device, its going to enjoy its next generation. As it changes hands, Greg Parker is going to repair it and preserve it for the next generation for everybody to enjoy,” said Palumbo.
“Plans (for how it will be painted) are under wraps. But it does need some TLC and some maintenance. You can see that there’s algae down by Antartica and, you know, Antartica’s not exactly known for algae growth. So… I mean, it’s a gigantic cast iron ball, so it needs some TLC. The last time it was painted was 1999, so it’s due for an overhaul and I’m not sure what form that will take but we do know that it will be maintained as a globe. And in the future...it will be the only place on the planet where you get to drive around the globe and grab a cup of coffee!”
The globe is 60’ in diameter—which means the spherical globe is also 60’ tall—and sits on a 10 foot pedestal, so basically it’s listed as seven stories tall
“It’s one of the largest (Horton Spheres) that you can still find at these natural gas distribution sites,” adds Palumbo. “And this is one of the few that you can still find on publicly accessible property. Most are still only now used on private sites that you can’t go up and see, touch.”
The Savannah tank (could) hold 113K cubic feet of gas. By comparison, the (according to the Wall Street Journal) one of the Horton Spheres deconstructed in the East Hampton, NY (Long Island) in 2013 was a 75 ton Horton Sphere with a 99K cubic feet capacity. A similar Horton Sphere in Poughkeepsie was dismantled in 2012
“Ours is the only one in existence that’s been painted to look like the globe,” Palumbo notes.
A Horton Sphere (according to an online search) is a spherical pressure vessel, which is used for storage of compressed gases such as propane, liquefied petroleum gas or butane in a liquid stage. First built (in the field) in the early 1920s by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company, more than 3500 have been built from Saudi Arabia to California. Some are still in use today.
“(It’s) been a project close to my heart because it’s such a unique one that so many Savannahians love and enjoy, for different reasons, whether it be that Santa Claus used to come into town and go atop the globe or the proposals that were there. The movie ‘Forces of Nature’ was filmed there, but it’s always been this landmark and gateway to the city,” dotes the Alderman.
“And it’s truly a one-of-a kind Savannah gem.” And it’s not on the national register of historic places, there’s not exactly a category for that because it is so unique.”
“It was so important when we knew that a local company had plans to develop the property, to reach out and do everything in our power to save it. We’re just super proud that its gonna stay where it is.”
Long-time residents and Savannah visitors agree. Judy Howell of Blackshear says looking for the globe was always a tradition when coming to the city.
“We would come into town for whatever reason, but that globe was like a ‘welcome to Savannah’ sign, says Howell. “It was also a landmark that let you know you were going in the right direction! Turn left at the globe!”
“Greg Parker made an extraordinary effort and a true design feat,” added Palumbo. “It took them over a year in traffic engineering alone to pull this off, but I think the effort’s truly worth it and you get to save the globe at the same time. Who else can say that.”