Mixed news in Savannah

A Savannah Morning News front-pager today focuses on the issues of redeveloping the city’s MLK.

The street, once a center of African-American business and activity, was badly undermined by an interstate extension in the 1960s, when it was still known as West Broad. It was renamed in 1990, and in 1996, city-directed redevelopment efforts began.

Since 2001, 74 new black-owned businesses have opened and continue to operate in the corridor.

Property values also have gone up. In December 2000, commercial properties in the corridor were valued at $75.9 million. As of 2005, those same properties were worth $209.4 million.

The downside is that as values have gone up, so have rents and leases. Businesses have to make more money to keep up, and many former residents simply cannot afford to live on MLK now.

Also: In typical SMN fashion, an interesting piece of news that to my knowledge had never been reported is slipped in toward the end of the piece, in a mysterious and inconclusive fashion:

The 514 West restaurant, a flagship of the Renewal Authority’s revitalization efforts, has shut down, owing at least $58,000 in unpaid state sales and withholding taxes.

It is unclear when or if the restaurant will reopen.

It also is unclear whether the restaurant’s financial troubles stem from its location or other factors. Co-owner Eddie Williams could not be reached for comment.

This is the restaurant outside of which the recent ceremony honoring King Oliver was held. A plaque in tribute to Oliver was mounted on the side of the restaurant. The paper ran several stories about the event.

So, the full facts on this matter would be nice.

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