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The Starland District: A Tale of Art, Innovation, and History

How It All Began

The Starland District revival we currently enjoy began in 1999 when two architects, John Deaderick and Greg Jacobs, both with undergraduate degrees in Historic Preservation, purchased and restored the old Starland Dairy (pictured above) in downtown Savannah. The dairy was to become the centerpiece of a revitalization project that spanned sixty blocks of dilapidated and fragile neighborhoods. This district of the city had over 50% of unusable housing stock because of severely deteriorated conditions, and more than half of the commercial structures had been razed or had become derelict. The two architects of this revitalization envisioned this to be home of a real and functioning arts community in Savannah, separate from SCAD. The Starland District was planned from its inception to be the hub for creative minds, businesses and culture in Savannah.

New Studios For the Arts

(Starlandia Art Store on Bull Street)

Deaderick and Jacobs started restoring smaller buildings in the neighborhood. When the first buildings were completed, Starland’s First Friday was born. Held in a small house at 28 E 41st Street, the first exhibit drew over 700 visitors. Within a few years over 40 professional artists were working in the neighborhood.


The Arrival Creative of Retail

Once artists were established in the area, Deaderick and Jacobs sought out interesting retail businesses that would lure visitors, and residents to the neighborhood. A coffee shop, wine shop, bakery, a veterinary clinic (the author’s personal favorite vet for her pets), and a few vintage stores moved in by 2003. Starland now had commerce focusing on businesses that brought a creative neighborhood vibe, and began drawing in more people.


(Pictured above L-R, Two Tides Brewery, Starland Yard, and Back In The Day Bakery)

Creating Sustainability

The two turned to building mixed-use projects after working with the city to turn 32 building zones into just four. This new zoning classification became a guideline for rethinking each district and neighborhood in the city, allowed a return to traditional building patterns, and shifted away from suburban zoning that is responsible for the ruin of many urban centers.

These new work spaces were built using an innovative construction technique allowing the buildings to be highly energy efficient. The new construction received an Honorable Mention award from the American Institute of Architects, and was the first awarded as the Gold Certified residences in Georgia by LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design).


The newly restored Starland District represented the hard work, ambition, and dreams of businesses and individuals that shared the vision of a new creative economy and community being born in Savannah. By 2007 more than 250 houses and buildings had been restored by the commitment and efforts of so many creative minds. While the trace of the two founders diminishes in the district, Starland is a vibrant and active community worth visiting, and living in.

(Desoto Ave: Home of several shops and sometimes Biergarten for Two Tides events.)


By Julie Horton, REALTOR

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