Richard Kessler’s Plant Riverside District is scheduled to open in early spring. The site was purchased on December 31, 2012 and after several years spent in design and construction, the 4.5 acre site is about to transform over one thousand feet of river coastline into a bustling entertainment and vacation destination.
Kessler says he is convinced that Savannah needs some real entertainment, and when he began the project he said he brought city officials, representatives, and locals together to ask them two questions: if you owned this property, what would you do with it and what does Savannah need.
“Everyone said two key things,” said Kessler. “That Savannah had nothing to do for the kids and that some kind of convention-size or large space was needed.”
The hotel guru set out to solve both problems at once, designing a space to showcase both local and celebrated talent, create a Martin Luther King, Jr. park, stages for live music, splash pads, hands-on science programs like dinosaur digs for kids, multiple art spaces, restaurants, rooftop bars, and more.
“Our site is at the dead end of MLK (Boulevard), and there’s no monument to honor Dr. King in Savannah. We want to create a park for him—I will pay for it—and a statue of him will be placed in the park. Our intentions were that it would be ready by Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but we had some setbacks in construction that prevented it. The King family has been involved in our plans and is excited for this,” said Kessler.
No Kessler hotel would be complete without a piece de resistance and Plant Riverside is no different. The hotel, the refurbished Georgia Power Plant originally built in 1912, features a chrome-plated dinosaur skeleton of the Amphicoelias Fragillimus suspended from the ceiling coming in at over 130 feet in length.
The dinosaur was designed by Dave Trexler, the resident paleontologist at Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Montana. Trexler said the assembly process for the skeleton took approximately two weeks.
“There will also be 30 million year old birds suspended from the ceiling around the skeleton,” said Trexler.
Kessler says he hopes that the dinosaur will reflect to visitors the history of energy.
“Why the dinosaur? How better to tell the story of the history of power? Fossil fuels generate power which created the growth of Savannah. It tells Savannah’s power history,” said Kessler.
For more information about Plant Riverside, check out www.plantriverside.com.