When it comes to adaptive-reuse development on a grand scale, Savannah’s famed riverfront promenade has debuted a multi-block project that’s transformative, awe-inspiring, and engaging enough to rival Ponce City Market, the largest historic renovation in Atlanta history.

The two Georgia cities might have little in common, but both marquee developments revived dilapidated, early 1900s structures in key locations. Both invite visitors to the rooftops for new perspectives on old neighborhoods. And both became ballyhooed tourist destinations overnight.

As a recent visit proved, the $375-million Plant Riverside District succeeds in artfully blending historic characteristics of the site’s shuttered 1912 power plant (see: the glowing twin smokestacks at night) with new construction that includes the anchor, a 419-room JW Marriott hotel.

The three-phase new district is a passion project for native son Richard Kessler, chairman and CEO of developer The Kessler Collection. Kessler’s company acquired the site—long an aesthetic canker sore on Savannah’s cobblestoned River Street—back in 2012, broke ground in 2016, and opened the first two phases over the past year, with the final piece not far behind.

As the largest redevelopment in the history of Savannah’s circa-1730s downtown, the Plant Riverside District covers 4.5 acres and created more than a quarter-mile of new riverwalk space. It’s chockfull of more than a dozen restaurants and lounges to date—and no shortage of artistic surprises, including a massive chrome dinosaur skeleton that lords over a glittery new mall.  

Head to the gallery for a look at what they’re calling a new kind of generator for Georgia’s oldest city.

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