Jekyll board selects new developers

The Brunswick News

May 18, 2010

The Jekyll Island Authority rolled over the speed bump of having to find new developers for its revival plan for the island Monday by announcing developers for three projects and receiving a design for a new convention center.

The three projects include two new hotels and a beachside village of new retail space.

Owners of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel were selected to develop a new 200-room, full-service beachfront hotel. The site will be the village green, adjacent to the planned new convention center.

Phelps Development of Greeley, Colorado, in partnership with The Chhatrala Group of San Diego, California, was selected to develop a new 120- to 140-room, mid-scale hotel in the heart of the new beach village, a block from the new convention center.

The hotels will be part a national chains that have yet to be determined, said Eric Garvey, spokesperson for the state-owned island.

Winding Road Development Co. of Scottsdale, Arizona, was selected as the developer for the 40,000-square-foot beach village retail space. The plan includes a mix of restaurants, shops, a bank, post office, a village green for entertainment and up to 60 loft residences.

All components will be adjacent to the new convention center.

The beach village, along with the convention center, is expected to be completed by summer 2012.

"It's so exciting to see where we're going," said Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, of revitalization projects on the island. He said the board has met all of its time goals.

"With this economy, we were concerned about what may be received or what may not be received," Hooks said about seeking developers for the projects.

In December, Atlanta-based Linger Longer Communities, the firm chosen in 2007 to develop the beach village and hotels, pulled out of the project because of the failing economy.

The Jekyll Island Authority then decided to split the privately funded components of the island's redevelopment among different firms, instead of hiring a single developer.

In keeping with the summer 2012 timetable for a new convention center, Michael Chatham, the project's lead architect, presented an update to board members Monday on the design of the 128,000-square-foot building.

There will be a 45,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can be divided into smaller areas and 12 meeting rooms that wrap around the convention center, some of which will have views to the ocean.

With more space, the new center will be able to attract conventions of up to 2,500 people. The current center is limited to about 1,200 people, Garvey said.

Outdoor terraces will be features of the building, along with awnings, large overhangs, outdoor porches and a fire pit similar to the one at the new Jekyll Island Hampton Inn & Suites, 200 South Beachview Drive.

"Sustainability is key," Chatham said.

He added that the convention center design is on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, a designation that means it would be environmentally friendly and efficient.

Special features include possible wind turbines to generate electricity, a rainwater collection cistern for irrigation water and flushing of toilets in the building, solar water heating, recycled and regional materials and low-emissions materials.