Monthly Archives: February 2006

Historic District Shops + Merchants Association = The Shops at Ellis Square

A group of shop owners recently have formed an association to better brand and market their retail store fronts in the strategically placed Broughton and Barnard Street’s close to the Ellis Square.

As the recently initiated renovation on Ellis Square churns away toward a projected two year completion date, eight merchants in close proximity have come together to position themselves to capitalize on the even more increased tourist activity that this section of the historic district has enjoyed in years past on completion of this long anticipated Historic District Square.  Branding themselves as “The Shops on Ellis Square”, these eight merchants are scattered throughout the important intersection of Barnard Street and West Broughton Street within the district. The trendy boutique shops, live entertainment venues, restaurants, and coffee houses situated here are already enjoying a fair amount of Ellis Square pre-renovation popularity among local Savannahians. And savvy travelers will not be too far behind, if The Shops on Ellis Square has anything to do with it.

The founding eight members are actively seeking other local members to join their branding and marketing efforts of this fledgling marketing collaboration. At present they meet every Wednesday at The Express Café and Bakery on Barnard Street right across the street from Jazz’d Tapas Bar on the ground floor of the recently condoized old Kress Building. As this section of the historic district sees nicer urban lofts come into play interspersed amongst eclectic eating, clubbing, and shopping venues, Savannah Getaways is betting on the predictably successful outcome of our friends that are members of The Shops on Ellis Square.

Savannah Chamber of Commerce courts African American Tourists

Contact the Savannah Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for your free brochure about Savannah’s historic district and the many African American points of interest. As history loving travelers from all over country continue to pour into Savannah’s historic district during this high season, the CVB folks give one more reason to join the crowd of tourists coming to the Georgia coast this season according to this Macon Telegraph report.

The glossy brochure highlights black churches and cultural attractions. It lists several "significant and prominent black Savannahians" buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery and calls direct attention to famous people from the area, including civil rights icon W.W. Law and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Savannah is where Union Gen. David Hunter issued an emancipation edict in 1862 and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman read Special Order 15, the famous "Forty acres and a mule" proclamation, to an audience of former slaves in January 1865.

"Several years ago, the CVB’s marketing committee decided that the African-American market is the only niche market we would pursue," said Anthony Schopp, bureau president. In South Carolina, officials have a package of black tours and trails that span the state. Charleston, S.C., officials promote several sites for black tourists and has the Avery Center for African-American Studies.

Savannah, Georgia historic district undergoing a facelift in 2006

As an Urban Planet blog post recently noted about the upgrade in historic district infrastructure of Savannah, Georgia: “Architecturally, we have seen this new thinking translate into more contemporary design influences and a greater trend towards more mixed-use development.”

Identified as one of the top 10 hot spots for entrepreneurs, Savannah is attracting many new businesses that will add vibrant growth to the city. According to the University of Georgia Terry School of Business "Georgia Economic Outlook for 2006," the job growth rate in Savannah is nearly double that of the rest of the state. This influx of newcomers also brings new ideas and a major reinvestment in downtown.

While Savannah is no stranger to contemporary design with influences like the Savannah College of Art and Design, it is somewhat of a departure from the new architecture we have seen over the last 10 years. A move toward a more modern aesthetic is something that needs to be carefully studied and considered in order for it to fit in with the rich context and architectural styles that exist in Savannah today. Fortunately, the City’s Historic Review Board and organizations like the Historic Savannah Foundation are mindful of this. Their scrutiny and vigilance will ensure that Savannah never loses its historic character even as it moves into the future. In the year ahead all indications are that quality mixed-use development will reach out in new directions.

And the beat goes on for forward leaning Savannah as this grand old lady keeps on keeping on with her visionary blending of new and old infrastructure as she maintains her prime strategic geographic leadership role while fulfilling the many needs of the residents of coastal Georgia.