City Council to solicit input on what to name Cultural Arts Center

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At today's City Council meeting, Council opted to delay a vote to officially name the new cultural arts center the "Savannah Cultural Arts Center."

Alderman Van Johnson indicated "this is the only opportunity" to name the building, and perhaps the public might want some input into the name.

Alderman Tony Thomas agreed — suggesting that the City might even generate revenue by selling the naming rights in a sponsorship deal.

The theatre inside the center is already scheduled to be named for the late Savannah jazz great Ben Tucker.

Alderman Bill Durrence said if they were considering selling the naming rights, it would be best to come up with a protocol for that since "this is going to come up again."



Council agreed to take the next month to solicit more public input on the naming process.

In other business, a show-cause hearing for a controversial longtime bar owner resulted in the granting of a new alcohol license for a new location.

Jaqueline Somesso, former owner of Club Oz and Club Ice, is opening Liquid Cafe on the Southside near Tibet Avenue. While it would open ostensibly as a restaurant, Mayor Eddie DeLoach expressed skepticism that it would stay that way, worrying openly that it was likely to morph into a club catering to underage clientele.

DeLoach said that Somesso at one point ran a "shot house," i.e. an illegal alcohol establishment.

Though Council was briefed on the many dozens of police calls to Somesso's former clubs while they were in operation — including shootings, carjackings, and assaults as well as noise violations and underage drinking — in the end her attorney Steven Scheer's appeal that those incidents mostly took place over ten years ago won the day.



Oddly, Scheer twice cited Somesso's "in-kind contributions" to the local Democratic Party specifically as reasons for Council to approve the alcohol license.

Despite City staff and the Revenue Department recommending denial of the license, Somesso won her license in a unanimous vote following over an hour of debate, with Alderman Thomas saying "I'm begging you" to live up to her promise that there would be no trouble at the new club.

The controversial purchase of the former Fire Station on Henry Street was delayed for staff review. 
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