Population loss in older Savannah neighborhoods, gains in West Chatham

In last Tuesday’s City Talk column, I wrote about the increasing vacancy rates in Chatham County:

According to the census in 2000, Chatham County had 99,863 housing units, with 9,818 vacant (about 9.8 percent). In 2010, the county had 119,323 housing units, with 16,285 vacant (about 13.6 percent vacant).

The vacancy rate is worse in the city of Savannah than in the county as a whole. In 2000, Savannah had 57,437 housing units with 6,062 vacant (10.6 percent). In 2010, in the Savannah city limits, there were
61,883 housing units with 9,338 vacant (15.1 percent).

Statewide, Georgia had an 8.4 percent residential vacancy rate in 2000, but that climbed to 12.3 percent in 2010.

Today’s City Talk column looked a little more closely at demographic shifts between 2000 and 2010, and included this observation:

“Even though Chatham County experienced solid population growth, there were significant portions of the county, including most of Savannah’s older neighborhoods, that lost population between 2000 and 2010. From Armstrong to the river, Abercorn Street cuts through or touches 15 census tracts. A dozen of them lost population.

Savannah is obviously not the only city experiencing population loss in older neighborhoods, but that’s cold comfort.”

Let’s look at a couple of maps (screenshots from the excellent interactive census map at The New York Times). The first is a broad view of Chatham County, which shows areas of population losses and gains:

And now let’s zoom in on that same image:

In today’s column, I observe that 12 of 15 census tracts along Abercorn between Armstrong and the river lost population in the last decade. We’re literally seeing a hollowing out of the population that lives on our main vehicular corridor. In future columns and posts, I might explore this a bit more.

One final map for today. This shows the increase in vacant residential units by census tract between 2000 and 2010. The darker blue color represents an increase of over 40% in the number of vacant units. That dark blue covers pretty much the entire county, with only a few pockets lighter blue (still bad news in terms of vacancy) and a few glimmers of good news.