Power Plans 2018
An artist only creates one true masterpiece in his lifetime. In order to be considered for the title, the work must be a sublime creation of epic proportions. The latest project for boutique hotel magnate Richard Kessler will bring those epic proportions to the Savannah River.
Hotel magnate Richard Kessler will tell you he is an avid art collector. He will tell you about his warehouse of more than 3,000 original paintings, and about the eight or nine truck-sized containers filled with every kind of art he’s purchased from all corners of the world.
“I have no formal training in art,” says the president, CEO and COO of The Kessler Enterprise. “It’s just something I’ve always had a feeling and a passion for.”
He may not have any formal training, but a glance back at his 47-year career and a peek at his latest project reveal a simple fact that cannot be overlooked or understated: Kessler is indeed a trained artist. Hotels are his canvas, inspiration and elegance are his tools, and with the Plant Riverside Entertainment District, he is about to create the grand masterpiece of his life’s work.
“This is very meaningful to me; this is the biggest and most complicated and one of the most fun projects I’ve ever done,” says the Savannah native of transforming the city’s 1912 power plant and its neighboring riverfront area on the west end of River Street into an entertainment complex that will feature two boutique hotels, 13 food and beverage operations including three rooftop bars, high-end retail, two ballrooms, a music venue, an outdoor park and much more. “We build experiences; that’s what people want today. What we are pretty darn good at is creating these experiences that are inspiring. They’re fun. They’re beautiful.”
The 4.5-acre complex is estimated to cost about $255 million, making it the biggest hotel project in the history of Savannah, not to mention transforming the largest piece of undeveloped national historic district land in America, Kessler says.
“I was determined to have this property because I felt like we were the only ones who could do it and do it well,” said Kessler, whose previous local projects, the Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront and Mansion on Forsyth Park, have both been wildly successful. “I love Savannah, it’s my birthplace.”
To find out more about Kessler and his vision for the Plant Riverside Entertainment District, pick up a copy a copy of South's June/July issue.
See our gallery below of photographer Mark Staff's incredible images of the current state of the Power Plant. Kessler plans to keep as much of the original architectural elements as possible.