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City Notebook
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“You’re standing in the only one-bed, three-bath apartment in Savannah right now,” joked Dicky Mopper about the partially renovated model unit that hosted a coming-out party of sorts last week for the upscale new incarnation of the venerable Drayton Tower.

The local real estate agency Mopper-Stapen hosted the event to market the so-called “rebirth” of the Liberty Street apartment building, which was sold to developer Michael Brown earlier this year.

Built in 1952, the Drayton Tower is a prime example of the then-dominant International style of architecture -- “the state of the art” of that distinctive post-war genre, as Mopper described it.

Historic Savannah Foundation Director Mark McDonald welcomed the facelift of the Drayton Tower, seeing the building as a part of Savannah’s architectural history as integral as any other historic building downtown.

“A building reflects the aesthetic values, technological values, and sensibilities of the time that it’s built,” said McDonald. “If you lose a building, you lose a link in that chain of history.”

Never fully appreciated in a downtown dominated by ornate Victorians, the ultra-modern Drayton Tower was not only a victim of Savannah’s retro fashion sense but of outright neglect, Mopper said.

“This place was basically milked for fifty years,” he said flatly. “The building wasn’t cleaned, there were those cheap awnings on it that came apart right away, and overall very little money was put into it.”

Indeed, guests to the party had to wait on a single elevator to take them to the 12th floor shindig, where they enjoyed the stunning views from that top floor perch. Each time the elevator door opened and closed, it made a loud grinding sound that prompted jokes from partygoers such as “I hope they fix the elevators first.”

However, with the sale of the property and the subsequent sale of several units, cleaning the building’s sleek exterior has already begun. A selection of floor plans call for the Tower’s 188 cramped efficiencies to be opened up into larger units which could number as few as 80, Mopper said.

As with most upscale renovations of this type these days, the future of the Drayton Tower will consist not of centrally-managed rental units but of individually owned condominiums.

“This is a straight condo-conversion. We’re not trying to reinvent anything here,” Mopper said.

For tenants who need to be moved but would like to stay in the building for the remainder of their leases, “we’re offering to move them to other units if they’d like,” Mopper said.

“But the rental units will be phased out over the next 36 months -- and make no mistake, this is a phase-out. We’ve tried to be as honest and up front with tenants as we could.”


The recent fatal shooting of Frederick Gleason on an Ardsley Park street has not yet led to a suspect, police say as we go to press.

Savannah Police spokesman Bucky Burnsed tells us, “Detectives have been able to gain some ground, but there’s no information we’re ready to release yet as to whether we’re close to an arrest.”

Sixty-four-year-old Gleason was shot Nov. 28 at Washington and Reynolds. His wife witnessed the incident.

Though some media reports indicate the shooter and his accomplice -- both young adult black males, Burnsed says -- were in a dark car, the police report from the murder says they were driving a white sedan.

Meanwhile, police are seeking Ronald Young, pictured, as a suspect in last week’s shooting death of 23-year-old Quentin Clark at 44th and Stevens.

The mug shot is from a prior arrest. If you know of Young’s whereabouts, call Det. Whitcomb at 651-6728.

In other crime news, police arrested Albert Bernard Jones, 21, and Alvon Marquis Graham, 26, suspected in four armed robberies last week that took place within half an hour.

The robbers drove up to pedestrians, pulled guns and demanded money. No one was seriously injured.