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Sept. 3 - Former Georgia Power Office to be Part of a Luxury Hotel Development

By Clark Byron, Senior Business Contributor

Sept. 3 - The former Georgia Power office building at 600 E. Bay Street in Savannah is part of a planned mega-development project that will involve two luxury hotels, according to plans submitted to the Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission’s Historic Preservation Review Board in June.

The June application to the MPC was for approval of Part II of the construction of the first hotel, referred to in the plans simply as Hotel 1, as well as two small amendments to the Part I plan. However, no work has commenced on anything at the site as of yet.

According to information provided to SBJ by the MPC, the actual address of Hotel 1 will be 611 E. River Street, sitting immediately east of the former Georgia Power office building.

The plans specifically state the existing building will remain. But what will be done to it and how will it be used?  “At this point we don’t know,” said Whip Triplett, executive vice president of North Point Hospitality Group, an Atlanta-based hotel developer, owner and operator. The company owns and operates five hotels in Savannah. “We have numerous options. It’s a great building with great bones but we are really concentrating on the Hotel 1 right now.”

Triplett is a member of the Board of Directors of the Tourism Leadership Council of Savannah, and is a past chairman of the board of that group – well-known and respected among local hoteliers.

The second hotel, Hotel 2, will be located on the waterfront immediately northeast of Hotel 1 and will also be a large luxury property with a 4,500 square-foot lobby and over 11,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and a restaurant. A large parking facility servicing both hotels is planned for the eastern-most portion of the property on General McIntosh Boulevard. To the immediate west of Hotel 2 and north of Hotel 1 will be two large commercial structures of 26,000 and 16,000 square feet respectively.

“We’re working with the city on sewer and water issues; just capacity for that entire development,” said Triplett. “It’s a master development so what we’re trying to do ahead of it is get sewer conveyance and water in place so the it will service that entire project once it’s built out.”

Triplett said the five-story Georgia Power office building is a great building with great views.

“We’re just not concentrating on it right now,” he said. “We’ve got so many moving parts on Hotel 1 that we really spend all our time focusing on that. Like anything, we start kicking around ideas but we very quickly find that we have our hands full with Hotel 1.”

HRB approved an additional floor to the Part I Plan for Hotel 1, which will make that structure approximately the same height as the old Georgia Power Building as it rises up from Bay Street, according to Triplett. At this point, there are no plans to add floors to the older building.

North Point Hospitality Group will build, own and operate the hotels on the property.

“As far as a franchise, we’re still working through a couple of options there,” said Triplett. “We’ll announce something in the next month or so when we nail that down.”

As for a timeline, Triplett said he wants to get started on Hotel 1 as quickly as possible. “In a perfect world, we would like to get started in November or December so that we can open by January or February 2015,” he said. “That gives you a little time to shake off the dust and figure out how to run the building and get everybody in it and comfortable staff-wise, and get ready for that second half of February when the traffic picks up.”

As for when decisions will be made about the Georgia Power office building, Triplett said that they may begin to look at that more closely sometime after the first of the year. “But until we get Hotel 1 up and running, it’s not a primary concern,” he said.

Last week, a notice of a public hearing on the project was posted on the old Georgia Power building. The hearing is part of the process of issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) by the MPC for any construction or restoration project that falls within the official limits of the city's Historic District. That hearing will take place on Sept. 11, at 2 p.m. at the MPC offices, 112 E. State St., in Savannah.


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