Abercorn Common, Savannah, Georgia / spotlight
renovation, Abercorn Common reopened in 2006 as the first LEED-certified retail shopping center in
The center’s impressive green
features have made it a standout
both locally and domestically.
Throughout the renovation, the developer was committed to limiting
waste. In fact, 85 percent of all construction debris—more than 6,000
tons of material—was recycled, reused and ultimately kept out of the
landfill. Other building materials
had high recycled material content
and were manufactured within a
500 mile radius of the project site.
The center was designed to be 55
percent more water efficient than a
conventional shopping center. The
developer achieved this by using
water-free urinals, low-flow toilets
and low-flow faucets. These fixtures
have reduced water use at the center by more than 40 percent.
The center’s innovative irrigation
system utilizes rainwater that has
been harvested off the roofs of the
buildings and stored in a large cistern behind the center. This system
saves 5. 5 million gallons of water
Abercorn Common is also a
model of energy efficiency. The cen-
ter’s tight building envelope, high
efficient light fixtures and HVAC
equipment and efficient glazing
help cut energy consumption. Ad-
ditionally, the highly-reflective
white roof, a green roof on one
building, additional insulation and
reflective glass play a major role in
reducing energy costs. In fact, all of
these energy-efficient measures re-
duced electricity consumption at the center by more than 30 percent.
Even the parking lot is green. Porous pavement in the parking lots allows
rainwater to naturally seep into the ground and soil, rather than the sewer
system. This reduces storm water runoff volumes by more than 30 percent.
The parking lot also has preferred parking for hybrid vehicles and carpoolers.
Plus, bike racks and showers are available for tenants and can help reduce the
environmental impact of car commuting.
While the center’s green features were crucial to earning LEED certification, the developer also made sure it blended with the architecture and style
of historic Savannah. To do this, the center boasts quaint awnings, brick facades, fountains and brick-paved sidewalks. The landscaping—comprised
of palm trees, pampas grasses and willow trees—throughout the center also
played a major role in its overall look and feel.
Since the center reopened after the LEED renovation, it has had three different owners. Melaver sold the center to Miami-based LNR Property in 2011.
Then, in 2012, the center was for sale again.
Local investor David Garfunkel of David Garfunkel & Co., LLC, recog-
nized the value of the center and purchased it for $24 million. “When it be-
came available, we bid on it and won,” said Garfunkel. “It’s in our backyard,
and it had a high occupancy rate and great location. The LEED certification
only added to its appeal.”
Before Garfunkel purchased the center, however, it had fallen into a bit
of disrepair. “The vegetation on the roof of the building wasn’t being main-
tained; the cistern pool was clogged and needed to be repaired; and the ir-
rigation system was not in proper working order and had to be repaired,” said
Garfunkel. “But we took this on when we bought the center, and we felt it was
our responsibility to maintain it.”
While the repairs were expensive, Garfunkel and his team were committed
to bringing the center back up to its green potential. In addition to system re-
pairs, the new owners also improved the landscaping, which had been dam-
aged by the dysfunctional irrigation system, and replaced the lights in the
parking lot with LED lights to further reduce energy consumption.
While there was a learning curve as the Garfunkel property managers became acquainted with the LEED-related systems of the property, the center
is thriving today. It is an in-demand shopping destination among shoppers
and tenants alike. In fact, the center is currently 99 percent occupied, with
just 2,400-square-feet of vacant space.
“The biggest reward of owning this center is knowing that we are doing
our part to maintain and promote the LEED concept,” said Garfunkel.
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