The Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity held a Ribbon Cutting and Grand Re-Opening for its ReStore on Tuesday, May 19th. Habitat’s new location, in the Carver Commons development at 701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, is a 25,000 square foot building that was built in 2011 and previously housed a Food Lion supermarket. It is next to the Main Office of Carver State Bank. Before moving to the new location, the Re- Store operated in McAlpin Square at 1900 East Victory Drive since March 2010.
“We couldn’t be more excited for this move for the community and the families we serve,” stated Habitat Executive Director Michael Weathers. “This allows us more space to sell our inventory and also to move our offices, warehouse and learning center to a central location—it is indeed a blessing.” Weathers was joined at the ceremony by Ryan Willoughby of Habitat Georgia and members of the Coastal Empire Habitat Board of Directors, including Board President Debbie Hughes as well as a large crowd of other Habitat supporters. Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, First District Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson, Carver State Bank President Robert James and Carver Commons developer Robert James, II were also present to participate in the momentous event.
The Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and “gently” used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail prices. Proceeds from the ReStore are used to help build homes in Savannah for individuals and families who qualify for assistance from Habitat. Residents, institutions and businesses donate items to ReStore Savannah and tons of household goods and building supplies are being diverted from local landfills every year because of these efforts. Reusing these items promotes positive environmental stewardship and helps families and other property owners make low cost improvements to their properties that they might otherwise be unable to afford.
At its new location in Carver Commons, the Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity Savannah Re- Store has now become an important part of a local effort to revitalize the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard corridor. This effort picked up steam during 2010 when officials of Carver State Bank and St. Philip A.M. E. Church announced that they would combine their properties to make way for Carver Commons, a commercial development that initially housed a Food Lion supermarket and a new main office for the Carver State Bank. The Carver Commons project signaled a new era for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Corridor that continues today and is reviving an entire section of Savannah that had been bypassed by significant new investments. Unlike Broughton Street and the northern end of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, prior to the Carver Commons investment, this historic corridor had not been enhanced by any major private capital infusion or redevelopment. During his remarks at the Habitat Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Mayor Pro Tem Van Johnson put the ReStore in this historic perspective when he said that “we thought we were building this space for a supermarket where people could buy food, but God decided that we needed this Habitat facility where families could build a future.” Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson commended the “visionaries” involved in this project and told the audience that she was happy that Habitat has moved into the neighborhood where she spent much of her childhood.
“Carver State Bank is committed to the revitalization of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard corridor,” said Carver President Robert James, “and the Carver Commons project is just one of the many efforts initiated or supported by Carver and its officers.” In addition to being neighbors, Carver and Habitat are now partners. During February 2015, Habitat for Humanity announced that Carver State Bank will begin servicing the home mortgages generated by Habitat and providing other banking services to the Coastal Empire Habitat and its partner families.
Carver State Bank has a tremendous 88-year heritage as an innovative financial services leader. The bank has been successful because of its loyal customers and the astute judgment, leadership and hard work of its directors and staff members. Carver is the only bank headquartered in Savannah that is certified by the United States Treasury Department as a Community Development Financial Institution and the only bank headquartered in the area awarded an “Outstanding” Community Reinvestment Act Rating by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. There are approximately 6,700 banks in America, and Carver State Bank is currently one of only 23 that are owned by African-Americans.
The Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Habitat for Humanity brings together people with resources and people in need to build simple, decent, affordable houses. The houses are sold to those in need at no profit, through no-interest loans. Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1983 and has opened the door to home ownership to over 130 families throughout Savannah. Anyone interested in volunteering or contributing to Habitat Savannah’s mission is encouraged to call Habitat for Humanity at 912.353.8122 or visit the organization at www.habitatsavannah.org; www.facebook.com/HabitatSavannah; or www.twitter.com/HabitatSavannah.