Record of the Jekyll Island State Park Authority (JISPA) Board Meeting of 23 April 2012, in Morgan Center, as recorded for JICA
Note: IPJI has placed some text in "bold" type for emphasis and has clarified
some statements in blue.
Chairman Bob Krueger brought the meeting to order at 9:30 AM. Board members present were Buddy DeLoach, Mike Hodges, Sybil Lynn and Richard Royal. Laura Lanier and Mark Williams were on conference telephone. Also present was Park Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. The audience numbered about 36 persons.
CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION:
Chairman Royal called upon Langford Holbrook of the Fanning Institute to provide a progress report regarding the Park’s Master Plan Update. Holbrook stated that the first Task Force (advisory in the Master Plan updating process), the 65/35 group, had met on 9 April. All the remaining Task Forces would meet Friday 27 April. The groups would identify the key issues to be considered in the updating work. The Fanning people will also be putting together the “stakeholder and public-engagement piece” of the updating process. Holbrook promised that summaries of Task Force proceedings would be made available to the Authority Board within a week’s time. He reminded the Board that the Task Forces are advisory groups charged with exploring the pertinent issues. To read the summary of the 65/35 Task Force meeting, click here. To read a summary of the other Task Force meetings, click here.
Historic Resources Director John Hunter had recently attended the annual meeting of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and their Spring Ramble. The Trust gave the Park, along with the Club Hotel, an award for Excellence in Rehabilitation, for the restoration of the Morgan Indoor Tennis Court (the conversion into the Morgan Center). This was the sixth such award given to the Park Authority for its historic rehabilitation efforts in the last twelve years.
Chairman Hodges reported that for the month of March, the Park lost $32.6 thousand, versus a budgeted loss of $114 thousand. For the fiscal year to date, the Park had net operating cash income of $339.6 thousand, versus a budgeted income of $54 thousand. At this point in the previous fiscal year, the Park had income of $361.3 thousand.
Legal Associate Chris O’Donnell announced a proposed lease renewal for the University of Georgia 4H premises. The lease is now up for a 10-year renewal, for the cost of $1 per year. This renewal was approved.
Director Hooks announced that a new Merchandising Manager, Brian O’Neal, has been hired. O’Neal has 25 years of experience in retail management.
Hooks also extended the Authority’s sympathy regarding the passing of Human Resources Director Cornell Harvey’s mother.
Communications Director Eric Garvey reported that his division has been busy spreading the word about the grand opening of the new Convention Center. A subsite has been set up on the Park’s website focused on the new Center, and several media outlets have appointments to conduct interviews in the Park. The initial public use of the Center (free to the public) would be the graduation ceremony for the Coastal College (3,000 attendees expected). The Park’s hotels are pretty much sold out for the end of the month of May, in conjunction with the Center activities (including the first conference in the Center, that of the Georgia Rural Water Association). Garvey introduced Alex Van Winkle; she is the principal owner of Van Winkle & Associates, which is providing assistance at the Atlanta level in developing the Park’s new brand.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE:
Director Hooks announced that the temporary convention campus will be dismantled at the end of May.
Hooks introduced Alysson Jackson, the general manager (working for SMG) of the new Convention Center. Jackson reported that SMG had held a job fair at the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce (to avoid discouraging applicants with the $5 Park-entry fee). Ninety-two applications were completed at the job fair. New employees were coming on board regularly. The new chef, Sean Prescott, was to arrive 30 April, coming from the Savannah International Trade Center.
Hooks remarked that the Chatrala Group has not finalized its financing documents in London yet, but the Hyatt Place is still scheduled for opening in spring, 2013. The new greeting station is now scheduled for completion by the first week of June.
Dave Curtis of Landmark Associates gave a report on progress with the development of the new Westin hotel in the Beach Village. Several persons associated with the Westin project traveled to New York recently for training in the Westin way of doing things. That included Robin Moncur, the interior designer for the project. Landmark is now putting together final construction documents for review by Westin. Moncur (from Toronto, Canada) gave a presentation on the interiors that she plans for the new Westin. She has done interiors for several other Westin hotels. Curtis reiterated that opening for the Westin is still planned for February, 2014. Curtis stated that his banker for the Westin, PNC Bank (which financed the Hampton Inn previously), was in the Park with him, working with the US Department of Agriculture on a loan-guarantee program in the final stages of a conditional commitment. Chairman Krueger pressed Curtis on September, 2013, as a firm date for groundbreaking for the Westin project. Curtis stated that that date is his goal. Krueger requested that Curtis keep Hooks informed regarding the financial commitment and groundbreaking schedule.
Next Curtis proposed to the Authority Board that Landmark Associates build three 3-story additional vacation-accommodation buildings (39 total rental units), as extensions of the Club Hotel (the “Club Hotel at the Beach”). These would lie in the Beach Village, between the Westin and the southern portion of the Great Dunes Park. There would be a small events lawn in front of the buildings, and a small pool to the west of the southernmost building. Only continental breakfasts would be offered to guests. Chairman Krueger inquired whether there would be a check-in desk in the proposed buildings? Answer: yes, a check-in facility will be added to one of these buildings. Mike Hodges asked about rental rates? Answer: the rates would follow those for suites at the Club Hotel. Buddy DeLoach wondered about timing for the proposed extension of the Club Hotel, with respect to the timing of construction of the Westin? Answer: approval of the extension-project concept is being sought from the Board now. DeLoach and Hodges asserted that certainty is needed on the Westin project, before approval of additional construction plans can be provided. Curtis assured the Board that he himself was satisfied that the Westin project would go to completion, but he could not provide absolute certainty that nothing would block the Westin project. Krueger remarked that he could see both the Westin and the Club Extension projects moving forward on parallel tracks. He recommended that Landmark Associates not slow down on the Club Extension project.
Director Hooks moved to the subject of the Retail Center in the Beach Village. There are no longer plans to include loft condominiums in the Retail Center. It will contain only retail businesses, and a consultant (RetailWorks of Atlanta, Michael Dahmer, President) has been hired to assist in setting up the Center. A specialty of RetailWorks is tenant pursuit. Dahmer provided a progress report (he began his work in early March). Dahmer observed that interest in occupying the Center has been strong; ten current retailers from within the Park have expressed interest, and 40-50 others from Savannah to Amelia Island and in the Atlanta area are considering joining the Beach Village retailers. Both retailers of necessities and retailers of non-essentials are being sought, so that there will be appeal to Park residents and to Park visitors. The inventory mix and the quality of the proposed store interiors will be important in making selections of retail tenants. Mike Hodges suggested that Dahmer consult with SMG (the manager of the Convention Center), since they have considerable experience with retail operations near the several convention centers that they operate. (The UPS Store was mentioned as a good candidate for convention-center retailing.)
Hooks observed that he has heard from GA DOT that the funding has been approved for additional signage on north and south I95 regarding Jekyll Island State Park. There will be seven additional references to the Park.
A letter has been sent to Center State Bank in Florida regarding the lack of progress in the sale of Jekyll Oceanfront Resort. A representative of the bank is to appear at the May Board meeting.
The Jekyll Island Foundation has approved 5 new Board members. They are Artie Allen of Metro Atlanta, Norman Haft of Jekyll Island, Russell Jacobs of St. Simons Island, Emory Mulling of Metro Atlanta, and Danny Ross of Metro Atlanta.
The codification of the Park’s ordinances is complete, and the ordinances are now available online. The Jekyll Fire Department is currently promoting smoke alarms and good visibility of house numbering to enable fast EMS discovery of addresses.
Chairman Krueger expressed pleasure at the complimentary remarks that he has heard from visitors to the Park when they see the new Convention Center, and he complimented the operators of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and associated businesses for their long-term commitment to excellence in hosting of visitors to the Park.
Vance Hughes asked whether there is a target date for completion of the Beach Village’s Retail Center? Answer: groundbreaking in October, 2012, with an 8-month completion schedule. Hughes then inquired about deadlines for tenant selection? Answer: a core group of tenants is expected to be selected before October, but the selection process will be ongoing beyond that date.
Tise Eyler expressed pleasure at the renewal of the 4H lease, since 4H provides such a fine coastal-educational service to Georgia’s youth. He reminded the audience that it wasn’t that long ago that the 4H was threatened with replacement by luxury hotel buildings.
Sandy Cerrato wondered how many retail businesses will be tenants in the Retail Center? Answer: 17-22 (40,000 square feet).
Steve Newell noted that now that the Park’s ordinances are easily available online, those who are designing the lighting of the new beachfront accommodations can easily ensure that they are familiar with the Park’s Beach Lighting Ordinance.
Chairman Krueger adjourned the Committee Meeting at 11:22 AM.
Steven Y. Newell, Jekyll Island Citizens Association; produced after transcribing from a digital voice recorder