Savannah College of Arts and Design’s (SCAD) newest proposed student-housing complex is headed to Savannah City Council. The Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) approved SCAD’s revised General Development Master Plan on Tuesday, Sept 12.
SCAD’s master plan for 703 Louisville Road features 220 units across two buildings: one six-story building and one seven-story building. The complex will have capacity for 800 residents. It will likely operate at around 700, said Brad Grant, SCAD’s senior vice president of development, at a July 25 special-called session on the plan. The Louisville Road lot It is also known as the Gateway Property. It abuts the Springfield Canal, which will require updates.
SCAD took over the lot after previous developer WEDP-Fund I, LLC seemingly abandoned it. SCAD issued a statement saying that “the amended SCAD master plan further reduces the footprint of the new structures and increases greenspace compared to the previously approved plan. As part of our commitment to the surrounding community, SCAD will invest an estimated $3.2 million to fully remediate historical environmental issues on the site.”
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The 1929 Seaboard Freight Station terminal on the site faced demolition when prior private proposals sought to replace with with apartment buildings. The city condemned the building earlier this year. SCAD, however, has proposed to preserve the headhouse and leave it in its current location.
At the Sept. 12 meeting, MPC staff recommended approval of the plan because the new development will sit between existing SCAD residential facilities at The Hive and Boundary Village. “We view this project as a vast improvement to what could be built currently by right,” said Josh Yellin, a lawyer representing SCAD at the meeting. “We agree with staff both in the prior recommendation and today, that this general development plan should be approved.”
SCAD has agreed to conform to all zoning conditions placed on the lot by the Savannah City Council on March 28, 2019, when WEDP proposed building private student housing on the site. The proposed dorms will have a mix of studio, two-bed and four-bed units. The plan also has allocated space for a bus stop along Louisville Road as well as above-ground parking garages. Because SCAD is a college, it is entitled to a 50% parking reduction. SCAD’s parking requirements allow for one vehicle for every four student housing beds as well as one bicycle space for every eight student housing beds.
MPC staff did recommend in their report that “Continued mobility improvements should be considered to bring more pronounced connectivity between SCAD’s residential campuses on either side of Louisville Road.” It remains to be seen how the increased vehicle, bike and pedestrian traffic will impact the intersection of Louisville Road and West Boundary Street.
Tuesday’s approval follows the delayed opening of SCAD’s 17-story residence hall on Indian Street. It was originally scheduled to open this fall. When it was clear that the residence hall would not be ready, SCAD secured private housing options for students at the Anne Street Lofts. In an April 2022 statement made by Vice President of SCAD Savannah and University Safety John Buckovich, he asserted that the structure would relieve the “pressure on the community for affordable rental housing because so many of our students will live on campus.”
The Savannah Morning News will continue to follow this story as well as SCAD’s ever-growing footprint within the city of Savannah.
Education and workforce development reporter Joseph Schwartzburt and city and county government reporter Evan Lasseter contributed to this article. You can reach them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.