SAVANNAH, Ga. — Residents and community leaders in Savannah are trying to decide the future of the 67-acre site that was home to the Coastal Empire Fair, land the city recently agreed to purchase.

It’s critical that development of the property enhances the lives of area residents and does not contribute to the community’s decline, Savannah Alderman Estella Shabazz said at a recent community meeting.

In addition to recreation, residents said they would like to see neighborhood businesses such as a grocery store and pharmacy open at the site.

The meeting took place less than one week after city staffers sent a memo to the Savannah City Council outlining the estimated costs of a conceptual plan for the property that included housing and recreational facilities, The Savannah Morning News reported (

There is a need in Savannah for more affordable housing, and city staffers estimated that more than 16 acres of the site could be developed to accommodate 90 to 190 dwellings, the memo stated.

But some residents in the area have expressed concerns about affordable and multi-unit housing being built at the fairgrounds site.

At the community meeting, Shabazz made it clear that she was not a fan of low-income housing being built on the site. It would contribute to neighborhood deterioration and reduce area property values, while failing to generate economic diversity and jobs, she said.

Citing a need for more recreation options for Savannah’s youth, Feiler Park Neighborhood Association President Betty Jones and other community leaders had urged the city council to buy the property and control what goes there.

Jones called for residents to attend their neighborhood meetings so that they could offer input on the pending development.

“Many of you we do not see,” she said. “We need more of you coming out and helping on the neighborhood level.”

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