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March 20 - City Demolishes Blighted Property Obtained through Eminent Domain

Category: Local Govts & Politics

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

March 20, 2019 - The process took over two years and included Superior Court hearings, changing a State law and holding special council meetings, but City leaders agreed the effort was worth turning “blight to bright” for residents in the West Savannah neighborhood. 

Of the 37 properties on Cumming Street, located between Augusta Avenue and Love Street, 21 are abandoned or blighted. Today, the City of Savannah demolished 226 Cumming Street, but has plans to demolish six more properties on Cumming Street after Superior Court hearings in June.

“One of the reasons I ran for office was the neglect the neighborhoods had in the City of Savannah,” said Mayor Eddie DeLoach. “We are revitalizing our communities in Savannah.”

There are three qualifications that a property must meet for the City to take a blighted property using eminent domain:

  1. Property is uninhabitable, unsafe and abandoned.
  2. Property has failed to comply with municipal/county maintenance codes for at least one year.
  3. Property contributes to crime in the immediate area. (112 Part-1 and Part-2 crimes committed on Cumming Street over the past 10 years.)

Alderman Van Johnson, whose district covers the West Savannah neighborhood, said, “We are here today to signal the growth and redevelopment that the City of Savannah has demonstrated over time and that we can do that responsibly under the laws of eminent domain.”

“On behalf of the West Savannah Neighborhood Community Organization,” said West Savannah Neighborhood Community Organization President-elect Marsha Buford. “We want to say thank you for your labor to continue to move us from blight to bright.”

The City’s Housing & Neighborhood Services Department plans to build eight new single-family homes on Cumming Street that will be sold to modest-waged first-time home buyers.

The full press conference video can be found on the City’s YouTube page: https://youtu.be/YBfTUnuYNII

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