Old power plant to become luxury hotel in Savannah

A Savannah hotel developer plans to break ground next month to convert a century-old power plant into a pair of luxury hotels and an entertainment district along the city’s Riverwalk.

The Plant Riverside District is expected to include more than 400 hotel rooms, 13 restaurants and bars, a gallery and spa. Kessler Collection, the developer and operator of boutique hotels and resorts including the Mansion on Forsyth Park and the Bohemian Hotel Savannah, acquired the former Georgia Power plant several years ago with the intent of converting the underdeveloped section of West River Street into an extension of Savannah’s cobblestone-lined riverfront.

A media alert said Kessler Collection Chairman and CEO Richard Kessler, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, and city officials will break ground on the project on Dec. 7.

The planned groundbreaking comes as the historic city is still shaking off a lashing by Hurricane Matthew, which raked the Georgia coast before causing widespread damage and flooding in the Carolinas.

A company representative said Kessler executives were not immediately available to comment.

Savannah’s hospitality sector has been hot since the recession, with a number of new hotels built in the city’s historic downtown in recent years.

The project also is the beneficiary of federal historic preservation tax credits and it will benefit from a controversial bill last year that increased the cap for state historic credits from $300,000 to $10 million.

In an interview last year, Kessler Collection President and COO Mark Kessler said much of the facade and industrial look of the former Plant Riverside power station, built in the 1910s and operated by Georgia Power, will be preserved and incorporated into the larger of the two hotels.

“It will really transform that west end of River Street,” he said.

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