July 20, 2017 City Council Regular Meeting
Ordinances - Second Reading: Motion to Amend Sec. 8-1002 of the Savannah Code of Ordinances with Sec. 510.2 of the 2015 International Building Code

Motion to amend the Savannah Code of Ordinances through the addition of a new local building code amendment that will provide more flexibility and design options to architects, engineers and developers in the design and construction of medium-density mixed-use buildings. First Reading was heard by Council on July 6, 2017. Recommend approval of this ordinance change on Second Reading.

Section 510.2 of the 2012 International Building Code (IBC) contains special provisions for a type of construction commonly known as “podium construction.” Podium construction is a worldwide trend towards the construction of taller wooden buildings. These types of buildings are most commonly designed to have four to six stories of wood construction on top of one floor of highly fire resistant concrete construction separated by a three-hour fire barrier.  This construction type is desirable to developers due to the relative affordability of wood and the speed of wood construction when compared with steel and concrete construction.

Examples of podium construction in Savannah can be observed at the Hue apartments located at 646 W. Bay St. Other projects such as the two proposed mixed-use (apartment, parking, retail) structures at the planned Savannah River Landing development is also looking to utilize this approach.

The current 2012 International Building Code (IBC) does not permit podium construction below the three-hour fire barrier to be more than one story above the grade plane. This restriction forces larger podium projects to build underground stories, which can cause technical issues and increase construction costs substantially due to the high water table in many parts of the City, thus potentially discouraging development in Savannah. The 2015 IBC has removed this restriction but has not been adopted by the State of Georgia.

Recommend amending the 2012 IBC to mirror the 2015 IBC requirements via a local code amendment. Municipalities may legally adopt local amendments via the Uniform Codes Act, O.C.G.A. §8-2-25. This proposal has been reviewed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and City staff but requires City Council approval to become official.

Recommend amending the City Code of Ordinances as follows:

Section 8-1002. Local code amendments.


(4) Section 510.2 of the International Building Code is amended by deleting the following:

      2. The building below the horizontal assembly is not greater than one story above the grade plane



Jason Carangelo, Building Inspections Administrator
Financial Impact
Review Comments

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