Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
Georgia: U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse Expansion (Savannah)
After more than five years of consultation with representatives of local, state and national preservation interests and other parties, in March the Council executed an MOA for this courthouse expansion project. In a letter to General Services Administration (GSA), Council Chairman Slater noted that GSA’s ability to conclude the consultation process with a design that has been embraced by the local community deserved special recognition: “The design for the new annex demonstrates that GSA listened to the concerns of the Council and the public and generated a design that meets the needs of the Federal judiciary and respects the character of the unique and invaluable Savannah National Historic Landmark District.”
The Chairman cited the diligent efforts of GSA’s Atlanta regional office to work with the city, the Historic Savannah Foundation, the Georgia State Historic Preservation Officer, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Savannah Economic Development Authority, and business groups.
The Southeast Sunbelt Region of GSA proposes to construct an annex to the U.S. Federal Building and Courthouse in Savannah. The existing building is located within the Savannah National Historic Landmark District. The building was constructed in two distinct phases and completed in 1930. At that time, the building was expanded to the north by combining two “Trust Lots”a character-defining feature of the District’s street planby closing the street which separated them.
The Courts identified a need for expansion in 1991 and in early 1994, after Congress approved funding for site selection and design, GSA’s regional office received direction to proceed. Shortly thereafter, GSA initiated the Section 106 process. At a special public meeting held in Savannah in October 1994, preceding a meeting of the Council, the full membership heard public testimony. Council members also toured the historic district and heard from GSA and local officials about the status of the project and GSA’s plans for public involvement.
This project has drawn significant attention to the Section 106 process and the value in careful consideration of preservation issues early in the planning process. This case also demonstrates the impact that early Council member involvement can have on the outcome of a potentially controversial case. Due in part to the visibility accorded consultation in this matter as a result of the Council’s 1994 meeting, GSA forged a clear plan for active public involvement and review of proposals.
Staff contact: Ralston Cox
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