A program in Savannah is encouraging downtown churches to redevelop their parking lots to include needed affordable housing and neighborhood services.
"the main focus of the churches in downtown Savannah is to bring their members to a new spiritual life.
At the same time, however, they're in a prime position to breathe new economic life into their communities.
It's a matter of location, location, location.
Savannah Development and Renewal Authority Director Lise Sundrla said 15 churches downtown own more than 70 open lots.
The renewal authority began a program last year helping those churches develop plans for using those properties in a way that can boost the economic health and residential choices of the communities they serve.
The developments can even be done without losing much church parking- the main use the lots are seeing right now.
That's because, historically, commercial buildings downtown were constructed at the edge of the sidewalk. That means a new building can go up streetside, with parking at the rear of the building, approached from the side streets.
So far, seven churches have partnered with the SDRA. There are opportunities for many more."