By Tandy Versyp
Broughton Street will soon change thanks to the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority (SDRA). They began their renewal of the busy, commercial street in 1986, and now, after a 16-month planning process, the SDRA has updated their renewal program. Working with W.K. Dickson — Community Infrastructure Consultants — the SDRA has formed short-term and long-term goals for the new look of Broughton Street.
The short-term projects include refurbishing the informational kiosks along the street with new corkboard, roof repairs, fresh paint and new Plexiglas; public agencies and nonprofit organizations will be given advertising space on vacant storefronts and Bosque Elm trees will be planted to filter light without blocking storefronts. The trees will also be spared from bikers chaining their bicycles to them, as a plan for bike racks is also a short-term project.
Long-term projects are: replacing the concrete sidewalks with brick pavers; putting paver grates around trees that will keep litter out and give trees a healthier environment; choosing from two options of lighting; expanding the curbs on the corners of Broughton and Barnard and Broughton and Bull Streets; and traffic signals will be extended across the street instead of merely on the corners.
“I’m not sure how I feel about it,” said advertising design student Elizabeth Bradley. “I work downtown and it’s going to be a nightmare getting through all that to work.”
Another part of the plan is to keep access to businesses open during construction. The proposed plan does not currently have all the $4 million needed to complete the renewal — only a state grant of $500,000 — so it may be a while before the changes begin.
“They’ve already spent about $200 million on that street,” said Peggy Varnadore, a Savannah resident. “They should work on other streets that haven’t gotten as much attention.”
The focus on Broughton Street is due to its history, according to W.K. Dickson. Broughton was the main street of Savannah in the mid-to-late 1800s. The goal is to revive that history and: “To create a cohesive feel and unified aesthetic appropriate for the Downtown Historic District.”