August 13, 2020 – 11:00 a.m.


Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the City Council work session and City Manager’s Briefing was held via Zoom video communications at 11:02 a.m. Mayor Johnson then asked Alderman Leggett to offer an invocation.


PRESENT:  Mayor Van R. Johnson, II, Presiding

Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter, At-Large, Post 1, Chairman

Alderwoman Alicia Miller Blakely, At-Large, Post 2

Alderwoman Bernetta B. Lanier, District 1

Alderman Detric Leggett, District  2

Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan, District 3

Alderman Nick Palumbo, District 4, Vice-Chairman

Alderwoman Dr. Estella Edwards Shabazz, District 5, Mayor Pro-Tem

Alderman Kurtis Purtee, District 6



City Manager Pat Monahan

City Attorney Bates Lovett

Clerk of Council Mark Massey

Workshop Agenda Items
1. Arena Update
Exhibit 1: Arena Update Presentation.pdf

A recess/break was taken from 11:04 a.m. to 11:17 a.m.

City Manager Pat Monahan gave a brief outline of the guaranteed maximum budget for the Arena project.  He introduced Chief Operating Officer Bret Bell for the presentation.

Mr. Bell began the presentation by quoting the guaranteed maximum price of $147.6 million, which is within the $165 million budget.  He expressed gratitude to the existing Civic Center which opened in 1974 and upon closing, it will be 48 years old.  This is extremely long in civic center standards.  It has served the City well, being flexible by serving in multi capacity, such as theater, ice rink, conventions, and currently is the site for code compliance operations, 311 back-up operations, and Chatham County Health Departments's COVID-19 testing.

Mr. Bell provided a slide presentation including an overview of the Savannah Arena with photographs of the Arena, the site, the project team, scope of service, project budget, local and DBE participation, and timeline/schedule.  The Savannah Arena is scheduled for an early 2022 opening.  Following Mr. Bell's presentation, the following project team member gave individual presentations:

  • Mr. Jim Curry, Vice President, JLL
  • Arneja Riley, A. Riley Consultants
  • Mr. Pat Wipperman, Project Director, AECOM HUNT
  • Mr. Manuel Dominquez, Director, Savannah Office of Business Opportunity and Ms. Arneja Riley of A. Riley Consultants

Following the presentation, Council Members discussed in great detail the local and DBE participation in the Arena project including jobs for minority residents who live in the community and those with experience who have certified trades that are not part of an established workforce.  A job fair was mentioned as a means to hire local residents in an effort to build equity in the Arena workforce.  The Council is requesting copies of signed contracts by all the contractors and monthly reports with specific information of all the completed work. 

Other topics of discussion included but were not limited to, a professional sports team as anchor, concerts, and events at the Arena to realize revenue.  Great emphasis was made during the discussions about DBE's, MBE's and WBE's and their role in the Arena project.  Local workers, unions and local laborers were discussed as a viable part of the workforce.  Residents of the community should be allowed to benefit from the construction as employees. 

Mayor Johnson endorsed the Arena project and reviewed the requests made by Council Members.  He suggested the Arena team address the issues of concern to make Council more comfortable about the overall project (possibly two weeks).  City Manager Monahan reminded Council the delay to approve the early package could cost the City money by an increase in the guaranteed maximum price due to schedule delays.  Mayor Johnson noted the Canal District project is entirely separate from the Arena project.            

2. Canal District Master Plan Update
Exhibit 1: Canal District Presentation.pdf
Exhibit 2: Canal District Public Survey Presentation.pdf

Postponed for thirty days, at the request of Mayor Johnson.

Hearing no further business, Mayor Johnson adjourned the work session at 1:11 p.m.


The audio recording of the Council Meeting can be found by copying and inserting the below link in your url:


Mark Massey, Clerk of Council

Date Minutes Approved: August 27, 2020

Initials:  mm

Agenda Plus