SJTC's Carter's Broughton Street Collection Takes Shape

May 13, 2016 6 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In 2014, despite developing Jacksonville's most suceessful shopping center and chairing downtown's Retail Task Force in 2007, developer Ben Carter chose to invest in downtown Savannah. Here's an update on Carter's business decision.

There’s one thing Jacksonville is increasingly becoming known for—The St. John’s Town Center. Located near Butler Boulevard and I-295 East Beltway, the St. John’s Town Center is a 200-acre, open-air lifestyle center and one of the most successful in the state.

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. Despite his success in Jacksonville and interest in downtown, in 2014, Carter sold his stake in SJTC and decided to make his next major retail investment in Savannah's downtown instead.

At the time, Carter announced his intentions to invest over one-hundred million dollars for the restoration of nearly three dozen buildings and storefronts along Broughton Street, Savannah's version of Jacksonville's Laura Street. Carter envisioned a mixed-use redevelopment project encompassing retail, restaurant, residential and office uses in historic buildings dating back to the late 1800’s. Consisting of more than 225,000 square feet of street level retail, it would represent approximately 65% of the total inventory on Savannah's main street.

In response to why not Jacksonville, Carter told the Jacksonville Business Journal, "“I’d consider it if there were anybody behind it, but I’m not interested in being a pioneer. No developer wants to come into a market where’s there’s not broad support for what you’re trying to do.”

Now, two years later, Carter's Broughton Street Collection is beginning to take shape. However, the process of developing in the core of a historic urban community has moved slower than initially envisioned. While a large suburban track like St. Johns Town Center can be assembled easily, accumulating 37 historic district properties and complying with Savannah's Historic Review Board and code compliances have proved to be more challenging. For example, Carter's plans for a major streetscape, a special eight-block Tax Allocation District (TAD) to fund, and Community Improvement District (CID) to maintain, died due to the city not finding them desirable or compatible with the historic district.

With that said, new retailers are beginning to make a noticeable visual presence on Broughton. Retailers currently operating in Carter's collection of buildings currently include Coach, Sephora, Lululemon, J Crew, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Victorial Secret, Tommy Bahama, L'Occitane, VANS, West Elm and Palm Avenue (Lilly Pulitzer). Restaurants include The Melting Pot, King Street Grille, Mojo's Kitchen, Blends Coffee, Hall's Chophouse and the Savannah Tap House. Soon they'll be joined by Carter's largest coup, H&M.  Occupying 35,000 square feet of retail space, H&M will become Broughton's largest retailer when it opens its doors this summer.

In addition to street level retailers, the Broughton Street Collection includes upper level office space and residential lofts. Many of these 1 and 2 bedroom units showcase a style and sophistication intended to be unique in historic Savannah with features that include restored original hardwood flooring, exposed masonry, tall ceilings, and stainless steel appliances.  Here's a look at what some would say downtown Jacksonville missed out on.

Next Page: May 2016 Photo Tour of the Broughton Street Collection

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