Which westside Chatham city is best positioning itself to handle growth? Garden City

Tapestry Park apartments near City Hall in Garden City.
Tapestry Park apartments near City Hall in Garden City.

Garden City is unlikely to rival West Chatham neighbors Pooler, Port Wentworth and Bloomingdale when it comes to future prosperity.

The municipality is geographically challenged, with the port on one side, an industrial corridor on the other and no centralized town center. Most, if not all, of Garden City’s growth will come via rejuvenation within its current corporation limits, not through building subdivisions or mixed-use community projects on undeveloped property or through annexation of neighboring areas.

Yet Garden City is positioning itself to steal some of that westside success for itself by doing what its neighbors won’t - focusing on the pain points that come with rapid growth.

Such as public transit, affordable housing and recreation.

In recent weeks, Garden City’s leaders have unveiled plans to expand Chatham Area Transit service, partner and build affordable housing units and open a new recreation and community center. These initiatives will benefit current residents and make Garden City, currently the equivalent of a fly-over state for commuters, more attractive as a residential and commercial locale.

Given Garden City’s proximity to downtown and major roadways, the municipality could be in for a renaissance.

Savannah rent prices are sky high: In visit to Garden City, Warnock champions Senate bill

Traffic moves through Garden City on Highway 21.
Traffic moves through Garden City on Highway 21.

CAT expansion is a potential masterstroke. The absence of public transit in the neighboring cities is going to undercut their ability to attract new employers. Pooler’s sham of a CAT referendum that appeared on May primary election ballots sent a clear message: The city welcomes Costco and chain restaurants and outlet mall retailers, but if you’re a business with a large employee base that would benefit from bus service, go look elsewhere.

Garden City is adding six stops along Georgia 21, a corridor ripe for redevelopment. The city manager has suggested a larger expansion along Dean Forest Road, another key locale.

Meanwhile, another CAT partner, the City of Savannah, has annexed several areas of West Chatham, from the Highlands to New Hampstead. Those neighborhoods, along with Garden City and unincorporated Chatham, will benefit from the other municipalities’ stubbornness when it comes to public transit.

The affordable housing initiative is another prudent move by Garden City. Housing and rent prices have pushed low-income and lower middle-class residents farther to the outskirts, and now a boom fueled by the Hyundai plant under construction in Bryan Co. is applying even more pressure.

By locating well-planned and quality affordable housing in Garden City, within easy reach of Savannah as well as Port Wentworth, Pooler and Bloomingdale, interest in living in the municipality could spike.

Garden City is no Pooler (or Port Wentworth or Bloomingdale) and that fact increasingly appears a good thing.

The U.S. Navy Band Commodores play for a packed park at the Savannah Jazz Fest in Forsyth Park on Saturday, September 24
The U.S. Navy Band Commodores play for a packed park at the Savannah Jazz Fest in Forsyth Park on Saturday, September 24

Vox 2.0: Pick you park

My colleague, Zach Dennis, makes the case for Daffin to supplant Forsyth as the preferred locale for events largely staged for locals, such as last weekend's Savannah Jazz Festival and next month's Savannah Philharmonic Picnic in the Park. His point is utilizing spaces outside of downtown increases accessibility for residents.

That prompts this week's Vox 2.0 question: What parks, venues or other spaces would you like to see used for cultural and community events and why?

Email your answer to avanbrimmer@savannahnow.com or post to the Savannah Town Square Facebook group page. You'll find the graphs under the "Tuesday's Talking Point" with a comment section below it.

Lest we forget last week's Vox 2.0 ... in the wake of the University System of Georgia's announcement of the elimination of 215 degrees and majors, we asked what degrees/majors would you like to see spiked?

Here's what you told us:

"I think a person would do better to get a degree in history or English or something like that, because they learn business on the job. At least then they'd be a more well-rounded and informed citizen."

"The Board of Regents could be doing things other than cutting degree programs."

Podcasts: Don't fret about your 401(k)

On the Commute podcast, a Savannah-based financial advisory, Kyle Powers, discussed 401(k) and retirement and how to keep market fluctuations in perspective. Also last week, Live Oak Libraries' Lola Shelton-Council provided an update on the local library system and talked about the value of a library card.

Click on the hyperlinks to listen to this episode or subscribe to the Commute by searching "The Commute with @SavannahOpinion" on your podcast app of choice.

The Difference Makers podcast is taking a sabbatical and will return later this year. With high school football season underway, check out the "On the 50 Yard Line" podcast with sportswriter Dennis Knight. Every week, Knight recaps the previous week's games and looks ahead to future matchups.

Subscribe for free to listen: Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Scroll down for some of the week's best opinion columns.

— Written by Opinion Columnist Adam Van Brimmer. Contact him at avanbrimmer@SavannahNow.com and follow him on Twitter @SavannahOpinion.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Garden City improves public transit, recreation and affordable housing