SAVANNAH AGENDA: Property Matters

The Manger building at 7 East Congress St. Eric Curl/07.24.2022

It’s not the just the size. It’s also how you use it. Make sure your development project is compatible with the surrounding community. That’s the take away in the latest batch of Savannah property acquisitions, restorations, rezonings and renovations.

Thanks for staying engaged Savannah,


Savannah’s historic Manger building may be converted (back) to hotel

About 37 years after it was converted into an office building, the historic Manger building overlooking downtown Savannah’s Johnson Square may be returning to its roots.

A zoning amendment approved by the Metropolitan Planning Commission last week allows for the restoration and conversion of the building into a hotel, as it was used for much of the 20th century.

The building’s owner, South Carolina-based Manger Building, LLC, recently requested an amendment to the city’s hotel overlay district map to include portions of Bull and Congress Street fronting the building. The request was to allow the building to be restored and re-established as a hotel after previously operating as one from 1912 through 1977. As an alternative, MPC staff recommended allowing for a re-establishment of a historic hotel within the overlay district. The amendment, which the owner agreed to, applies only to contributing buildings that were converted from hotels to another use within a designated “period of significance” from 1733-1960.

The Manger Hotel was once Savannah’s “finest place for hospitality, with the city’s first fully air-conditioned guest rooms and the rooftop Purple Tree Lounge,” according to Gunn, Meyerhoff and Shay, the design firm that designed and oversaw the building’s conversion into an office building in 1985.

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The building at 1825 Montgomery is poised to be demolished as part of the apartment development plan. Eric Curl/07.24.2022

Apartment complex planned for Montgomery and 35th in Streetcar District

The Historic Preservation Commission postponed consideration a proposal last week to demolish a non-contributing building in Savannah’s Streetcar Historic District in order to clear the way for a 4-story apartment complex.

Commission staff recommended approval of the demolition of the building at 1825 Montgomery St., but that consideration of the 86-bed apartment complex be postponed so that multiple design changes can be made.

“The building is too tall, too wide, the roof shape is not appropriate, it is not divided horizontally and vertically in a manner that reflects the traditional size of buildings nor does it convey human scale,” the staff report states.

Renovations, restaurant planned for former Kevin Barry’s space on West River Street

Renovations for a new restaurant are planned for the historic West River Street building previously occupied by beloved Irish pub Kevin Barry’s, as approved last month by the Historic District Board of Review.

The architect of the project, Savannah-based Felder and Associates, is working with interior design company, The Irish Pub Company, to design a restaurant called The Southern Tavern, according to the project description and drawings. Despite the Irish Pub Co.’s involvement, the new establishment does not appear to be an Irish pub. Instead, The Southern Tavern is described as a restaurant “Where Southern History meets Southern Hospitality” in the submitted documents.

Constructed in 1852, the building is a contributing structure within the local and national downtown Savannah historic district. After opening in 1981, Kevin Barry’s become known for its free live Irish and Celtic music shows before closing in 2019. The closing came about three years after the establishment earned the Irish Pubs Global Federation’s designation of being the most Irish pub outside Dublin.

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A rendering of the planned housing complex was included in the permitting documents submitted for the project.

New owner building apartments on former city lot, closed dry-cleaning business property

The latest owner is building a multi-family housing project on the eastern end of downtown Savannah, about three years after the city traded the vacant lot to a another developer in a land swap deal. The plan includes the recent demolition of the President Street building that housed David’s Dry Cleaners, which stopped operating at that location in March following the sale of the property.

The building site is bounded by East Broughton Street to the north, Barr Street to the west, East President Street to the south and Arnold Street to the east. The Charles H. Morris Center is just north of the property, the Inner City Night Shelter is to the east of the site, and The Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care Clinic is to the west.

The property is being developed by Minnesota-based development company, Opus Group. Raben General Contractors describes the project as a 5-story multi-family residential development with 104 units and 282 beds, a ground floor lobby and amenity space, parking, and multi-family residential units, with a single-story basement parking level and a second-floor exterior pool deck.

The city traded the Broughton property to Row Pine Development in May 2019, along with 12 acres of vacant industrial property off Feeley Avenue, for property the city intended to use for a municipal center annex. In June 2020, Row Pine Development sold the property to another LLC for $2.5 million. Then in February this year, that LLC sold the property to Opus for $4 million. Opus also purchased the property where David’s operated for $1.45 million in February.

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The most recently acquired property by is outlined in orange. The previous purchases are outlined in purple and green.

Hutchinson Island acquisitions continue

Mopper Turner Investments is continuing to to acquire property on Hutchinson Island, where a stalled housing development has been planned for years.

The most recently acquired property by is outlined in orange. The previous purchases are outlined in purple and green.

The development group’s latest purchase includes about 14 undeveloped acres on the north eastern end of the Residences at Savannah Harbor development.

The $5 million purchase in late May comes after the investment group purchased nine acres for $2.4 million in December and 149 lots for $5.2 million in September.

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Rendering of planned Mansion expansion by LS3P.

Mansion hotel sold to Perry Lane developers

The Kessler Collection (under a LLC) sold the Mansion on Forsyth hotel in June for almost $53 million to Left Lane Development (also under a LLC), the same development company behind the the Perry Lane hotel, according to sales records.

The sale followed the Historic District Board of Review’s approval in April of an expansion of the hotel, including construction of an event space, outdoor bar, and hotel guestroom building where the parking lot is currently located.

About The Author

Eric Curl

When not wandering the streets with his canine companion, Eric Curl is probably reading building permits and meeting agendas. He writes Property Matters on to share what he finds. You can find the column, along with other stories, cartoons and quizzes about local matters at
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