Jekyll Island Revitalization Update

Jun 26th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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Jekyll Island Revitalization Update

The "revitalization" plan was scaled back significantly (for many of us, that's a VERY good thing). Here's an update I received today about the changes. I'll be there in a couple of weeks and look forward to see what's been done. For those interested in going to Jekyll in the near future -

Greetings from Jekyll Island!

I trust you are having a nice summer and finding ways to stay cool. Guests on Jekyll Island have been taking advantage of the cool ocean breezes as beach activity has really increased. The hot weather is also driving folks to Summer Waves Water Park where there is something to keep every member of the family cool! The slow economy is affecting the travel industry nationwide and Jekyll Island is not immune. So far, May and June hotel occupancy has been down versus previous years while our visitation to the island has remained steady. Guests are definitely seeking value, and there are many “deals” available at Jekyll Island hotels.

The Revitalization of Jekyll Island is making steady progress. Planning is being completed for both the Beach Village project and the Canopy Bluff project. Vertical construction is complete at the new Hampton Inn & Suites and the interior finishing is underway. The owners of the Hampton Inn & Suites have announced an opening day of January 12, 2010. This will be the first new hotel to open its doors on Jekyll Island in over 35 years!

Our Architect & Engineering firm HHCP is busy completing final Site plans for the Beach Village which includes the large beachside “signature” park. The preliminary Site plans for the park were presented to an advisory forum and the consensus was that we are on the right track. The new park will be a wonderful new public amenity that will provide renewed green space, shade structures, changing facilities and more to the beach-going public. Parking will be plentiful, and the beach access convenient. Preliminary plans are for the Park to connect to the retail village via a public “boardwalk.”

We have been pleased with the work of HHCP to date. The Beach Village site contains many challenges as we are basically rebuilding on existing footprints. The site is very constrained, and our goal is to make it very pedestrian-friendly yet provide the necessary parking spaces. Final Site plans for the Beach Village along with a preliminary construction schedule and budget estimates will be presented to the Jekyll Island Authority Board at their regular meeting on July 13th.

If you have visited the island this summer, you may have noticed survey crews and survey flags around the Beach Village site. I hope you also noticed the many small improvements that are being made. Blackbeard’s Seafood Restaurant has received a facelift and is now under a new manager. We will soon have a new pizza restaurant adjacent to Mini Golf and the playground. There are new Segway nature tours available this summer, and a variety of new golf activities, including night golf, and sea turtle programs. I hear so often how much guests love Jekyll Island, and how they value their visit to this wonderful place. If you have not taken a summer vacation yet, or are in need of another affordable getaway please consider a visit this summer. Our website JekyllIsland.com contains links to all the best hotel deals in addition to a complete schedule of activity.

Thank you for your interest and support. We appreciate your comments and input as we move forward.

Sincerely,
Jones Hooks
starrs is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 02:06 PM
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I can't wait. I know where we are going to stay next year!
palmettoprincess is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 03:22 PM
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I heard from a friend on St. Simons and they are looking forward to the tri-island fireworks this weekend. Another friend will be there for it. They got a great July 4th deal at the hotel I usually stay at. LOVE the island, and can't wait to see the (smaller) changes.
starrs is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2009, 06:35 PM
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Starrs, thanks for the info. Will you give us an update when you return (i.e. tell us if there's lots of construction going on)? Do you know where this "Beach Village" site is? We haven't been to JI in the last 3 years, but we're meeting friends there for a long weekend in September and I can't wait to go back!
longhorn55 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2009, 05:56 AM
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The "Beach Village" site is between the Days Inn and Blackbeard's restaurant. The south half will consist of 2 hotels; a 5-story, 160 unit, time-share complex; 75 condos; etail shops;and a renvoated convention center. The north end will be a public park.

Most people I know are okay with the Beach Village project and are keen on the scheduled replacement of five of Jekyll's oceanfront hotels. What is worrisome, however, is that the JIA's 'revitaliztion' forecast calls for more than a thousnd additional lodging/residential units beyond the current projects, and a peak season island population of 15,000+, more than double its all-time high. Talk of converting one of Jekyll's golf courses into a condo community and turning Jekyll's key amenities over to the JIA's private partner - the upscale developer Linger Longer Communities - also has people concerned that Jekyll's 'revitalization' will end up ruining the island's character for the sake of a series of real estate development projects that benefit a select group of private developers.

Also worrisome is that the JIA's recently issued "density study" claims that the forecasted increase in Jekyll's built environment will not affect the island's character. The density study, which failed to consider the imapct of the proposed development on the quality of the visitor experience or the island's natural systems, has drawn heavy criticism for grossly overstating Jekyll's developable land area (9,200 acres instead of the actual 1,450 acres)when projecting per acre population and lodging density for the built-up Jekyll of the future.

FYI - I got my information from a non-profit citizens' organization (savejekyllisland.org) that has been following the Jekyll development issue closely. They've won 3 statewide awards in the past year for their efforts on Jekyll's behalf and have over 11,000 people in their organization.
Michael_Foote is offline  
Jul 5th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the info, Michael. We've vacationed at JI on a semi-regular basis for over 20 years and I always liked it because it was a quiet, low-key, family-friendly place. I hope the "revitalization" doesn't change it for the worse.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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Longhorn,

Glad to provide you with some clean facts. Nearly every Jekyll visitor with whom I've spoke, and I've talked with a lot of them, believes that adding 400+ condos and time-shares and nearly 500 hotel rooms to Jekyll's all-time lodging highs is way more than enough to accomplish Jekyll's 'revitalization.' Development well beyond this point, which is where the JIA is heading, will, I fear, mark the end of Jekyll Island State Park as we know it. Unfortunately, the planned increase of Jekyll's built environment is unknown to most of the island's visitors. If they knew what is in the works, they would be clamoring for the dismissal of the JIA board and for the appointment of a new one that understands what the Park is all about.
The immediate changes coming to Jekyll are welcomed but will lull people into thinking that's all there is to 'revitalization', and, by so doing, pave the way for the ones that will prove to be destructive to Jekyll's natural appeal and traditional character.
Michael_Foote is offline  

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