SAVANNAH - Mall developer and College of Charleston benefactor Ben Carter has revealed additional details on his $72 million plan to return Broughton Street to its heyday as a shopping and dining mecca.
Carter, who said he has 21 properties under contract between Montgomery and Drayton streets, confirmed that retailers J. Crew and Palm Avenue will be among his first batch of new tenants.
His plan, he said, could create 800 retail and restaurant jobs and add more than 100 new downtown residents through the building of 80 loft-style apartments in the upper floors of his properties. Carter said he wants to acquire about 25 properties total.
"This is not a downtown revitalization project - your downtown is vital - it just needs some amenities that we think we can build on to make it a better lifestyle for everybody." Carter said.
Carter, whose company is based in Atlanta, said his Savannah properties will total about 150,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
He said the residential component will target the creative class, namely young professionals interested in downtown renovated studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
Carter is well-known at the College of Charleston School of Business, where he and his family established the Carter Real Estate Center in 2006 with a gift. Last year, he and wife Tricia announced they were donating $250,000 in scholarships for undergraduates at the school who focus on real estate either as a minor or a concentration.
Although Carter has alluded to King Street in Charleston as an inspiration for his vision in Savannah, he said he wanted Broughton to stand on its own.
"I hope you will walk this vision with us," he said. "Let's not think about King Street. Let's think about what we can be."
He said he hopes to close on a series of buildings by the end of the month, with several more by later this summer.
"We'll start our renovation efforts and apartment and retail efforts as we close," he said.
The developer reiterated that he wants to boost occupancy and enhance the customer base, not drive local shops out.
"A lot of our sellers are people that own the retail businesses they're in and have decided to take cash and maybe relocate or take cash and retire," said Carter, adding that several acquisitions were empty.
Alderman Van Johnson said the investment was an opportunity to reclaim spaces that have sat vacant. "This is a game changer," said Johnson. "(It's) an opportunity for us to be able to put retail in here and to use Ben's contacts and his creativity and his connections to be able to infuse more vitality into a corridor that's already very, very vibrant."
Carter said he wants to work with the city to improve the streetscape, including shortening crosswalks.
"The Post and Courier contributed to this report..