Just a few years ago, cities across the nation were declaring their downtown areas dead due to the takeover of shopping malls and online retailers. Now, according to a USA Today study, urban shopping districts have made a resurgence.
Quito Anderson is the CEO for Atlanta based design group Ben Carter Enterprises. He says Broughton Street has the x-factor of urbanism.
“I think Savannah was poised for it. I would say, what we've done in the last three years, it would take most cities 20 years to do,” said Anderson.
BCE is responsible for about 65 percent of the total inventory on the street and that equates to about 225,000 square feet of street level retail.
Anderson says the awakening on Broughton Street is a sign of the times.
“We are now focusing on an urban, retailer. Urbanism is in. You have to have national, regionals, and locals,” said Anderson.
One of those locals is 26-year Broughton Street business owner Joe Dabit.
Dabit owns On Time Fashion. It's a men’s clothier.
“I think it's great if we get the extra tourist, it will be very great for our business,” said Dabit.
A regional business, Levy Jewelers, has been a Savannah mainstay for more than a century.
Jean Templet is the store manager. He said Savannah has a certain feel to it that visitors recognize and enjoy.
“There's always a sense of excitement in the city that really tourists as well as locals feel that,” said Templet.
The most recent national chain retailer to be born on Broughton Street is Vineyard Vines, just the fourth store in Georgia, the national retailer is added to the $90 million historic restoration effort led by Ben Carter Enterprises.
The Broughton Street Collection blends Savannah’s Southern charm, unique history and easy-going elegance with the emerging trends and style driven by restaurants, retailers and fashion forward thinkers.
Pilar Arias is from Austin, Texas. She says Broughton Street has everything a shopper could want.
“I especially like to buy local when I can and you have a great mix of both stores here,” said Arias.
For Ft. Stewart resident Jennifer Mersky, Broughton is a different experience.
“It feels like you are shopping kind of at a bazaar outside it’s not a mall. It’s different from anywhere else I've ever been,” said Mersky.
Anderson says BCE is now looking at a different development plan for the remainder of the build-out.
“We have a couple of spaces left and we want to fill those with restaurants. We think there is a great demand for that restaurant and that foodie desire here on the street and we want to catch on to that and put that on Broughton Street,” said Anderson.
The Broughton Street Collection includes 37 historical properties, which offers street level retail, loft residences and office space.