The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa on Hutchinson Island faced a number of legal hurdles when the project was first conceived.
Developer CSX Realty Development Corp. had a vision to revitalize Hutchinson Island – located in the Savannah River across from Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District – with a world-class resort, a championship golf-course and a destination spa. The project was featured on the front page of the Fulton County Daily Report and widely hailed as Savannah’s most ambitious development to date.
The developer received initial approval on necessary environmental permits from Georgia agencies, but the State of South Carolina objected, citing the Coastal Zone Management Act. HunterMaclean attorneys argued that South Carolina - which shares the Savannah River as a border – could not veto a project located completely within Georgia. Ultimately, the U.S. Justice Department agreed with the Firm’s position, and the Corps of Engineers issued a permit which allowed the development of the Westin to proceed.
The development process was additionally clouded by questionable titles on some of the land. After extensive research of 19th-century documents legislative acts, HunterMaclean was able to obtain title insurance for CSX Realty and clear up the gray areas surrounding the title issues.
Finally, HunterMaclean attorneys negotiated a complex public-private partnership with Chatham County to build roads on the island, construct the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, erect a river walk and add a highway interchange off of the Talmadge Bridge. The Firm also spearheaded agreements with the City of Savannah to add water and sewer lines under the Savannah River. In exchange, the developers agreed to donate the land for the trade center to Chatham County and to annex the land into the City of Savannah.
Today, the Westin is one of Savannah’s most successful hotels, delivering first-class services to visitors from across the country and around the world. HunterMaclean’s long-term partnership with the developer assisted the process of energizing Savannah’s riverfront, contributing to the local economy and setting a new standard for development in Georgia’s First City.
“The Development of Hutchinson Island-Savannah-Chatham County’s Public-Private Partnership.” By W. Brooks Stillwell & Andrew H. Ernst
Click here to view a PowerPoint Presentation on the Development of Hutchinson Island.