CITY TALK: New office to anchor south end of Forsyth

By Bill Dowers

For the Savannah Morning News

In 2013, I wrote about a planned development that would have transformed the south end of Forsyth Park. At the time, the large lot at the southwest corner of Bull Street and Park Avenue was slated for a mix of residential and commercial uses. There would have been an apartment building right on the corner, with retail at street level and single-family homes facing Park and Bull.

That ambitious development was approved, but now a totally different plan is on tap.

The law firm Bouhan Falligant currently occupies the Armstrong House at 447 Bull St. at the north end of Forsyth Park, but they’ll be moving next year to a new building called One West Park Avenue.

With Brighter Day Natural Foods and the sprawling American Legion complex across Bull Street, the vacant site begs for an active use, and the new office building, which has room for a tenant on the first floor, should work out fine.

Dating back to the 19th century, the site has been home to a variety of residential and commercial buildings. The most recent use was a daycare center.

The stately new three-story structure will be about 18,000 square feet and will be oriented toward Park Avenue (i.e., facing the park), but there will also be entrances on Bull Street, with some parking off Park Lane. A patio and landscaping will buffer the building from the nearest house on Park Avenue.

The brick and stone elements should lend gravity to the building, and the many windows should prevent it from feeling too forbidding.

It’s worth noting that Bouhan Falligant employees will spend a great deal of money at nearby businesses, even during the slower months. The lot is now used sporadically for parking, sometimes without the owner’s permission, but the new use will generate much more economic activity and property tax revenue.

The size of One West Park Avenue requires 39 off-street parking spaces, most of which will be remote. The law firm has a long-term agreement for 32 spots in the parking lot at Bull Street Baptist Church, which is a bit of a hike.

It will be interesting to see how many of those remote spaces are actually used. If I were an employee at Bouhan Falligant, I’d probably just snag one of the unmetered on-street spaces along Park Avenue or Bull Street.

The Armstrong House and its adjacent parking lot on Gaston Street appear likely to be developed into some sort of boutique inn or hotel. You’ll be reading more about that soon.