Jekyll beachfront hotel plan scaled back

The Brunswick News

By ANNA FERGUSON HALL
September 24, 2011

Plans for a beachfront renewal of Jekyll Island could be altered to create more open space and a smaller full-service hotel.

"Certainly, this is a substantial change," said Eric Garvey, chief communication officer for the authority.

As newly proposed, a crossover to the beach would be constructed on the south side of the planned Beach Village of shops and lodging, giving visitors more options for experiencing the island's sandy shores.

The revision also calls for creating an estimated 100 additional parking spaces, Garvey said.

The shift in direction would include a scaling down of a planned full-service hotel. Authority staff says the contract for what was initially proposed as a 200-room hotel - but which has not been signed with anyone - could be awarded to one of three major hotel chains: Hilton, Westin or Marriott.

Another hotel planned for the renovated area - the Hyatt Place with about 330 rooms - will be a limited-service hotel.

Since the authority began planning the remodeling of the island several years ago, it has always kept the idea of an additional access point on the south side of the village on the back-burner. A series of town hall meetings brought the idea to the forefront, and now it seems to make the most sense, Garvey said.

To the north of the planned Beach Village area is the Great Dunes Park beach access, which was recently renovated. While the park will provide access to the merchants area, there were no plans for a southern entrance.

"It just sort of was a dead end," Garvey said. "With access on both the north and south ends now, it opens the area up and creates a much more conducive flow."

A flow, he said, the authority hopes will give greater attention to the merchants area and create a central activity point.

The board of the Jekyll Island Authority, which operates the island state park, will discuss the proposed changes when it meets at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Morgan Center Convention Campus on Jekyll Island.

"Our project manager will be on hand to answer any questions and address any issue that may be raised," Garvey said. "This change, though, really just makes a lot of sense. I think the board will support the idea."