Saturday, January 24, 2009

Garden City, Ga. Officially Announces Ambitious Plans for New Town Center, Dean Forest Beautification and Other Important Projects

(BUSINESS WIRE)--At a special press conference today, Garden City officials made a series of important announcements that promise to shape the future of Chatham County.

"We're delighted to announce the fact that we are moving our city center, with the unanimous support of Garden City residents, to an area of Chatham County where we can grow," said Brian Johnson, City Administrator for Garden City. "The city realized that the growth of the port and its ancillary industrial influence required a move. We decided to take matters into our own hands and shape our own destiny."

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue attended the event, praising Garden City's vision for the future. He said Garden City stands apart as a model of "entrepreneurial public leadership."

"I applaud the courage of local leadership to create the beginning of the future of the next Garden City," enthused Governor Perdue. "This is good news for Georgia, good news for Savannah and good news for Garden City. Everything is in place for a very prosperous and bright future for Garden City."

Here are specific details about each of the major Garden City announcements:

TOWN CENTER MIXED-USE PROJECT - Garden City officials unveiled plans for an exciting new mixed-use Town Center, located on Dean Forest Road near Southbridge. The project, which recently won a Georgia Planning Association Award, promises to breathe new life into a previously undeveloped area of Garden City. The 40-acre Town Center offers easy access to downtown Savannah as well as the "megasite" located at I-16 and I-95. At build-out, the site will accommodate more than 800,000 square feet of commercial, residential and retail development; will serve as the new "heart and soul" of downtown Garden City; and provide a new gateway to historic Savannah.

A true destination location, the Town Center will offer a wide range of boutique shops and restaurants. City officials are working in partnership with private developers for the mixed-use portion of the new Town Center and are currently in discussions with a number of prospective commercial tenants. Garden City officials expect to make a number of tenant announcements in the coming months.

"The location of the new Town Center is key," Johnson said. "We're going to build a new downtown and create a destination location for residents and visitors alike. We want to give people a great first impression on their way to Savannah. We want to support tourism and economic development in the area as a whole."

NEW CITY HALL – Garden City will officially move into its new City Hall, which anchors the Town Center site, in late August 2009. The 33,000-square-foot building will include the Garden City Police Department headquarters, Municipal Court, Council chambers and administrative offices for Garden City employees. The new City Hall marks a dramatic expansion from its current 19,000-square-foot building at 100 Main Street. The old City Hall was built in the 1950's and was recently acquired by Georgia Ports Authority as part of its ongoing expansion efforts. The new City Hall will host a grand opening in early September.

NEW CITY SEAL – As part of Garden City's re-branding efforts, the municipality has worked closely with Titan Advertising Group, an award-winning local marketing firm, to design a new city seal that reflects the city's multi-faceted identity. The colorful new seal symbolizes Garden City's progressive nature, combining images of family, business, industry and nature into a glorious celebration of the past, present and future.

NEW REGIONAL POLICE ACADEMY – The new Georgia Public Safety Training Center Regional Police Academy, which serves as a training center for area law enforcement officers, will be built at the Town Center site. The 10,500-square-foot building, which will replace the current training facility that is leased at Armstrong Atlantic State University, plans to open in late 2010. The Southeast Georgia Police Academy provides required certification training for law enforcement officers for a 19-county region.

NEW VISITORS CENTER – The Dotson House, the oldest home in Garden City, has been relocated to the Town Center site and will serve as the headquarters for the Garden City Visitors Bureau. This late eighteenth-century building once served as the overseer's house at historic Brampton Plantation. In late 2009, the Dotson House will officially re-open to the public and feature area visitor information, meeting rooms and history exhibits.

PROPOSED DEAN FOREST BEAUTIFICATION – Garden City is currently in talks with Chatham County officials to allocate funds to beautify Dean Forest Road when the Department of Transportation widens the street. In an effort to create a more attractive environment that appeals to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, Dean Forest Road will feature a scenic landscaped boulevard, tree-lined streets, sidewalks and bike paths from Southbridge Blvd. to

Sunshine Rd. Garden City officials are hopeful that construction will begin in 2010.

PROPOSED SOUTHSIDE FIRE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING – The Southside Fire Department is interested in building a new Fire Administration Building across the street from the Town Center and is considering construction of a new fire station on-site. The 20,000-square-foot administrative building is currently in the engineering stage. Garden City officials are hopeful that construction will begin in 2010.

PROPOSED WEST CHATHAM LIBRARY – Live Oak Public Libraries, which serves residents in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties, is currently in discussion with Garden City officials about constructing a new West Chatham library branch at the Town Center site. The new branch would be the first library facility in West Chatham and serve residents throughout the area.

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