Jekyll resort on hold
Developer contends replacing Buccaneer not feasible at this time

The Brunswick News
By Erika Capek
February 22, 2011

The waiting game continues for replacement of the demolished Buccaneer Beach Resort on Jekyll Island, which was razed in late 2007.

Robert Abberger, senior managing director for Trammell Crow, the real estate development and investment firm chosen in 2007 to replace the aging Buccaneer Resort, gave an update on the project Monday during Jekyll Island Authority committee meetings.

A report to the board concluded that a replacement will not be economically feasible until the general economy, hospitality and second-home markets improve.

"We have to have some evidence of momentum in the marketplace," Abberger said. "The financial market remains challenging. I cannot tell you today when we would be ready to move on with vertical development (of construction)."

Original plans for the $125 million project called for a 285-room resort hotel, 127-unit condo-hotel, 15,000-square-foot conference center, wedding garden, full-service spa, restaurant and two swimming pools.

Trammell Crow is still evaluating the best use of the location, depending on market conditions and competition for the venture.

Abberger said the next steps include monitoring market activity for recovery and reassessing timing, when construction of a new Jekyll Island convention center and associated hotels and retail space is completed.

The report pointed out that the Buccaneer site is the logical next one to be developed, following a convention center and associated hotels.

Revitalized components on Jekyll Island - including two new hotels, which will be adjacent to the new beachfront convention center and the beach village shopping and dining area - are all expected to be completed by mid-2012.

There are also plans for Trammell Crow to continue improvements at Oceanside Inn and Suites, in which it has invested close to $1 million during the past two years, officials say.

Abberger said the real estate development firm has spent $95,000 on amenities, such as the pool deck, lighting, improving walkways and public facility areas. He said the next step will be to improve the building, including room renovations.

Separately, another victim to the economy was Jekyll Oceanfront Clarion Resort, which closed last month. Because the motel ceased operations on such short notice, Jekyll Island officials at meetings Monday expressed concerns that individuals with reservations may have not been contacted.

That is because there is no access to individual records. Many of the convention and business groups have been contacted and relocated. The Jekyll Island Authority staff has been in contact with representatives of the motel to figure out the next move.

Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority, said finding a buyer would be best for the future of the motel and the island.

There have also been discussions with commercial real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle, Hooks said.

"We offered to work with (Jones Lang) LaSalle in any way we can to make sure they understand what's going on on Jekyll Island," Hooks said, referring to all revitalization efforts.

There has already been at least one offer for the property, officials said.