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News briefs
The old Candler Hospital is one step closer to getting a new life,

A new start for the old hospital

After last week’s City Council meeting, Wecco, the Charleston–based design–build firm responsible for local projects like the Starland Lofts and the Frogtown building, came another step closer to redeveloping the old Candler Hospital near the northeast end of Forsyth Park.

Having received a recommendation for approval from the Metropolitan Planning Commission, Wecco principal William Cogswell was hoping for – and got – approval of two zoning amendments from mayor and council.

The changes sought included changing the allowance for the total number of units allowed per acre in plots designated RIPD and the minimum lot size.

Both changes were necessary for the company to carry out plans to renovate the former hospital into a mixed use development with one and two bedroom units on the upper stories. However, all plans are, at this point, tentative because no actual designs have been submitted to the MPC or council.

During discussion prior to voting, Mayor Johnson and Alderman Jones expressed some concern about the potential impacts on the nearby Chatham apartment building in the future. The building was formerly part of the Candler complex, but had since been sold to different owners.

“I would hate to see us try to do something good that would have a negative impact,” Johnson said plainly to Cogswell.
“It’s called gentrification,” he added a few minutes later.

Cogswell assured council that at the moment, they had no plans for the apartment building in question, but had spoken to the owners about potentially leasing parking spaces from them.

Despite some additional discussion about the total number of parking spaces available for the potential development, all the zoning amendments passed.

20,000 pounds of food

Last week, a gold tractor trailer from DOT Foods stopped at the Second Harvest Food Bank on President Street to drop off a donation of 20,000 pounds of food. The donation is part of a national campaign to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary by donating over 270,000 pounds of food to 11 food banks across the country.

According to local Second Harvest Executive Director Mary Jane Crouch, the food, which is enough to serve 15,000 meals, arrives at a time when the organization could use the help.

“This is a time of year when food drives slow down,” Crouch says. “Children are out of school and not getting that meal, so we try to step up.”

In addition to food bank, Second Harvest also runs programs that help deliver groceries to seniors in need, as well as the Kids Café, which provides meals to thousands of youth in dozens of counties across Southeast Georgia.

Pedal Power

The push to improve bicycle and foot traffic in the city and across the county is taking another step forward this month.

The Coastal Region Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is responsible for transportation planning in Chatham County, is inviting the public to take part in two surveys that will help decide the priorities for bicyclists and pedestrians across the county.

The survey covers questions about how often respondents use bicycles and sidewalks, where they ride or walk, what types of facilities they’d like to see created and what obstacles exist that keep them from riding or walking more often.

The goal is to “identify a network to focus on and figure out where demand is,” according to Jane Love with the Metropolitan Planning Commission. They hope to have input from across the spectrum of users “to provide improvements for everyone.”

If you want to make your voice heard on non–motorized matters across the county, there is an online survey available (, or you can call Love to answer the survey by phone (912–651–1443).

The deadline to take the survey is July 22, and once all the responses have been gathered they’ll be used to create a set of recommendations for potential solutions and new facilities next year.