City, Historic Savannah Partner To Preserve Building

(L-R) Van Johnson, Joseph Lumpkin, and Daniel Carrey
(L-R) Van Johnson, Joseph Lumpkin, and Daniel Carrey

The City of Savannah and Historic Savannah Foundation recently announced a partnership that will lead to the restoration and re-use of a historic two-story structure next to the site of the future Central Precinct station.

The 1888 structure had been located within the footprint of the planned Police facility, which is being built on the eastern side of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near 34th Street. The partnership led to a change of the Precinct site plan, and will follow with a restoration and development plan that is compatible with larger economic development and preservation efforts along the corridor.

The City has also begun a Meldrim Row Documentation Project coordinated by the City’s Research Library and Municipal Archives Department. The Documentation Project includes historical research of the property, measured drawings and photos of the structures. The information will be used as the City seeks Historical Marker designation from the Georgia Historical Society.

“Today is about preserving the past, addressing a present need, and preparing for the future,” said Mayor Pro Tem Van R. Johnson II, whose district includes the site. “This partnership is a win-win for this community.”

In January, the City of Savannah purchased the eastern side (36 dilapidated units) of an apartment complex known as Meldrim Row from owner Century Investors.

One of the stipulations of the sale was that Century use the proceeds to renovate 46 identical apartments located on the western side of MLK, within the boundaries of the Cuyler Brownville Historic District. All current tenants who lived on the eastern side of the property were relocated to the newly renovated apartments on the western side.

“This partnership is maybe a first of its kind,” Daniel Carey, President and CEO of Historic Savannah Foundation, said of the two-story restoration. “It’s an important reminder that preservation and progress go hand in hand. We’re not only preserving our history and architecture, but we’re showing that old buildings can serve contemporary needs.”

The new Central Precinct will be the first as-designed police station built in Savannah in more than a century. It will be a state-of-the-art policing facility, and offer much-needed meeting room space for civic and neighborhood organizations. It is strategically located on boundary of the Cuyler-Brownville and Metropolitan neighborhoods, which have been the locations of persistent crime for decades.

“It is important to note that this is a collaborative partnership because public safety is always best served when the community and police work together,” said SCMPD Chief Jack Lumpkin. “And, even a newcomer to Savannah such as myself quickly recognizes the importance of preserving the history of this beautiful city.”

The Precinct’s presence should help stabilize the area, and act as catalyst for private investment – including further restoration efforts – along a key revitalization corridor.

“Through Savannah’s history, out greatest success stories have arisen from true public-private collaborations,” said City Manager Stephanie Cutter. “We expect this partnership to be no different.”

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