Developers selected for Jekyll Island revitalization project
Three developments - hotels, apartments, stores - will cost $76 million

Georgia Times-Union

By Carole Hawkins
May 18, 2010

JEKYLL ISLAND - By the time Jekyll Island State Park unveils its new convention center in the summer of 2012, there will be a beach village surrounding it.

The park's governing authority selected three contractors on Monday to build hotels, stores and loft apartments off Jekyll's main beach as part of its town center revitalization project.

Owners of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, doing business as Jekyll Landmark Associates, were selected to build a 200-room, full-service convention center hotel. Phelps Development of Greeley, Colo., will build a 140-room mid-scale hotel, and Winding Road Development Company of Scottsdale, Ariz., will develop 40,000 square feet of retail stores and 60 loft apartments.

The projects are estimated to cost a combined $76 million and will complement a new, $50 million convention center and beach-side park, which the state is building.

The authority had originally awarded the entire beach village contract to a single developer, Linger Longer Communities, but scuttled the deal in December when it appeared the Atlanta-based company would not be able to secure financing and build in time for the convention center's opening.

In January Jekyll Executive Director Jones Hooks outlined an aggressive schedule to find replacement contractors and keep the project on track.

"We've met our deadlines, and we're moving forward," Hooks said Monday.

The authority pared down the three companies selected from nine original bidders, based on reputation, commitment, financial viability, shared values and whether they could finish by deadline, Hooks said.

Jekyll Landmark Associates edged the competition by designing a project that stayed true to the authority's vision for a fully integrated beach village, Jekyll communications officer Eric Garvey said.

The full-service hotel will offer a three-meal-a-day restaurant, be accessible to the rest of the village and will incorporate a day spa, something meeting planners have been asking for.

"They totally understand that the beach village has to work together with the convention center and the park," Garvey said. "They understand our lodging inventory and our market and came up with a plan that will attract a broader selection of convention center clients."

Hooks praised Phelps Development for its creative design, saying its new mid-scale hotel would have a uniquely Jekyll look. Garvey complimented the company for including meals served cafe-style from a lobby/bar, something not typically found in a limited-service hotel.

Garvey said the authority selected Winding Road Development to build Jekyll's retail space based on the company's long experience with similar resort projects. The company has built oceanfront projects in Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Sandestin, Fla.

"They understood what makes a resort-style retail village work," Garvey said. "They design for an authentic look that makes guests feel like they're walking through a village that's been there for a long time."

Hooks said the company's experience with retail operations was also impressive.

"They understood things like what percentage of restaurants you should have and how much 'action' retail there should be - like a shop where you see someone making candy. That carries a lot of shoppers' interest," Hooks said.

The authority will vote on final contracts for all three companies at a special meeting on Wednesday, June
9.