Town Center's Ben Carter Invests In Downtown Savannah

September 8, 2014 18 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

After recently selling his share of ownership in St. Johns Town Center, developer Ben Carter decides to invest in Downtown Savannah, despite chairing Downtown Jacksonville's Retail Task Force in 2007. Metro Jacksonville's Kristen Pickrell provides us with the details.

There’s one thing Jacksonville is increasingly becoming known for—The St. John’s Town Center. Located near JTB and 295, the St. John’s Town Center is a 200-acre, open-air shopping mall. The St. John’s Town Center opened in 2005 with over one hundred stores, and in 2007, added forty more retailers in a second phase of the project. Currently, the St. John’s Town Center is undergoing a third installment, expected to be open by the end of this year.

Expansion continues at Jacksonville's St. Johns Town Center.

The St. John’s Town Center was a vision realized by Ben Carter, former chair of Downtown Jacksonville’s Retail Task Force, and the Simon Property Group, the number one real estate investment trust in the United States.

While the St. John’s Town Center has been in recent headlines, so has Mr. Carter, who decided to sell his stake in the St. John’s Town Center. Carter’s stake in the shopping center was valued around seven hundred and fifty-million dollars. While selling his share in the Town Center may not seem huge, what is huge is the fact that Carter is taking this money and reinvesting it into developing the urban core—the urban core that is not in Jacksonville.

Instead, Carter has moved a bit further north, implementing his money in the historic area of downtown Savannah. Carter has decided to invest over one-hundred million dollars into the Broughton Street strip. Carter’s investment will allow for the renovation of nearly three dozen buildings and storefronts along Broughton Street. The renovation of these neglected and vacated building will bring thousands of square feet of new restaurants and retail shops to the area. Carter’s restoration of the area is expected to produce hundreds of new jobs. Additionally, the restoration is expected to increase tourist numbers and generate several million dollars in revenue.

Carter's Broughton Street project will bring retailers like J. Crew, Tommy Bahama, and L’Occitane to 35 properties in Downtown Savannah.

Additionally, Carter has made a commitment to investing in the workforce training that will be required for the jobs created. Carter has also made several changes to the landscape of the “current” Broughton Street, as a visual symbol for his commitment to the beautification of this area.

Surprisingly, Carter’s project does not stop there. Alongside the Broughton Street renovation, Carter as partnered up with the Savannah Downtown Business Association to host “Fashion night Out” on Broughton Street. “Fashion night Out” is a large event in Savannah that brings handfuls of retailers and thousands of shopped to the area every year.

So, we can see that Carter has severely expressed his interest and passion in restoring the urban core of Georgia. However, this is not the first time this expression has been marked. Carter often expressed a similar enthusiasm while chair of Downtown Jacksonville’s retail task force in 2007.  

Working alongside team members such as former Mayor John Peyton, Carter supported big plans for downtown Jacksonville during his time as chair.

Carter led a retail task force to help determine a City action plan for development, which proposed objectives such as: increasing walkability, improving neighborhoods, and create a framework for sustainable success. Moreover, all of these objectives were then accompanied by the necessary steps that should be followed in order to achieve success within the proposal.

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