Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hotels, Stores Still Part of Plans for Jekyll; More Developers Will Be Given a Chance to Hear about the Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hotels, Stores Still Part of Plans for Jekyll; More Developers Will Be Given a Chance to Hear about the Project

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLE HAWKINS

JEKYLL ISLAND - Hotels and stores will still be part of Jekyll Island's new beach village, despite the loss of the private development partner that was to build them, the park's governing authority said Monday.

The Jekyll Island Authority also said at its monthly meeting that building a new convention center hotel will be the top priority.

Authority board members also took care of a formality, voting to end its partnership with developer Linger Longer Communities. Both Linger Longer and the authority announced a week earlier the partnership had been dissolved by mutual agreement.

The company was hired to manage revitalization at the state park for 25 years and to build the commercial portions of the new beach village.

A tight credit market would have kept Linger Longer from securing the $120 million it needed to build the hotel and retail development by the time a new state-funded convention center was finished in 2012. The state is spending $50 million to build a beachfront park and new entrance roads.

Following the board's vote, Jekyll Island Executive Director Jones Hooks outlined a month-long to-do list for getting commercial development back on track. He said the authority staff would discuss which commercial buildings the authority would seek builders for and would identify a strategy for planning without a commercial partner.

"Securing additional hotel rooms to complement the new convention center is going to be a major focus because all other components, such as retail, depend on that component," Hooks said. He said he would bring recommendations back to the board in January and will invite developers and other interested persons to a program Jan. 21-22 to introduce them to the project.

Jekyll Marketing Director Eric Garvey said the need for a convention center hotel is where the idea for revitalization began years ago. At a joint economic development meeting held on Jekyll, the authority was told the best new economic driver for Jekyll would be a new hotel connected to or adjacent to the convention center. …

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