Jekyll developer pulls out: Good or bad for island?

Linger Longer will not linger any longer on Jekyll Island.

Jekyll Island State Park’s main redeveloper, Linger Longer Communities, has pulled out of the project, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

Opponents of the plan who prefer slower growth cheered the company’s decision to quit the $170 million hotel-condo-retail development. They called it a victory for budget-conscious, beach-loving Georgians, many of whom got a first whiff of salt air along Jekyll’s shores, Chapman reports.

But disappointed Jekyll Island officials, along with Gov. Sonny Perdue who championed a revitalized Jekyll, vowed that reconstruction of the state-owned barrier island near Brunswick will continue.

A new retail district, convention center and beachfront park remain on the books, Chapman reports.

What do you think should be done? Forge ahead after the dust clears or consider the company’s pullout a good thing for the island?

Are you more likely to go to Jekyll if the project is built or not built?

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103 comments Add your comment

Rueben

December 9th, 2009
7:05 am

Just perfect! Enough of mega projects hurting the environment.

chip

December 9th, 2009
7:11 am

Jekyll needs that project. Anyone who has stayed in any hotel on Jekyll in the last couple of years with the exception of the Jekyll Island Club will agree the hotels are in need of major renovations. LingerLongers planfor the island would have been wonderful for Jekyll and I find it very sad that Jeff Chapman can not see that the island and the local community would benefit from the project. As a local citizen whom he claims to represent he will not be getting my vote for Governor, he can’t see what is needed in his own backyard how can he see what is needed for the entire state…

Nativeson71

December 9th, 2009
7:32 am

Updating some of the old motels and hotels would be nice…but Jekyll is fine the way it is. Building some MEGAPLEX does not fit the character of Jekyll.
Keep it simple – keep it affordable – Jekyll is not ‘Fabulous’ …it is a quiet place.

FDawg

December 9th, 2009
7:46 am

Completely agree with Nativeson71….the lodging facilities could certainly benefit from a renovation or update but let’s preserve the the natural feel of Jekyll. We don’t need over development of this beautiful environment.

WAW

December 9th, 2009
7:47 am

Chip go to Saint Simons! Jeykll Island State Park has been saved! Chapman will not get my vote for Governor either but has my greatest respect and appreciation for his part is prevent the thief of “Georgia’s Jewel”.

Aquagirl

December 9th, 2009
7:47 am

Oh, this is terrible! If there is one thing Georgia needs, it’s more development! [/sarcasm off/]

The project wasn’t renovations—it included NEW CONSTRUCTION, Chip, and you know it. Of the four proposals, Linger Longer’s was the biggest. Jekyll doesn’t need a bloody thing, except protection from people thinking $150 + per night rooms meet the mandate of “affordable” for all Georgians–unlike developers or others with financial interests who are crying over the collapse of this project.

Maybe Jeff Chapman opposed the project because it was shady, non-competitive, and all about lining developers’ pockets. He has my vote, plus a campaign contribution. I’m sure it won’t offset the fatcats who won’t donate to his campaign, but then I don’t get rich raping the land for a living.

mike olsen

December 9th, 2009
7:48 am

jekyll doesent need any more development, you yankees need to find some other place to vacation!

Sparkie

December 9th, 2009
7:50 am

Good news! I love Jekyll. Have been a frequent visitor and largely opposed this project and Linger Longer!

Pat

December 9th, 2009
7:55 am

There are some nice motels on Jekyll. The Holiday Inn has been torn down and some of the others – like the Days Inn – have been renovated. They are affordable and Jekyll is a treasure just like it is. I understand that the Cloister has filed for bankruptcy – perhaps those who want a fancier dig could stay there because they could use the business.

oldtimer

December 9th, 2009
7:56 am

I love jekyll the way it is!!

Sue

December 9th, 2009
8:13 am

I thank God! I have prayed off and on for at least two years for Jekyll Island not to be developed with luxury digs. That the high roolers have pulled out is, to me, answered prayer. Jekyll was bought with money almost robbed from the Teacher Reitrement fund of Georgia. It is supposed to be, under the original agreement, for the average Georgia and not the Mercedes Benz crowd

Diana

December 9th, 2009
8:18 am

Developers have ruined beautiful areas in this country…LEAVE JEKYLL ISLAND ALONE!! The only they saw was the almighty dollar sign!!

Courtney

December 9th, 2009
8:22 am

I have been visiting Jekyll Island every Thanksgiving since 1990 and have watched the reviatlization of the historic district as well as the destruction of multiple hotels/motels. Jekyll Island should not aspire to be similar to St. Simons Island (a near-by island with built-up shopping areas) but should embrace its natural, pristine, and somewhat untouched surroundings. This should be the focus of the Jekyll Island Authority – marketing the avilability of the quiet, serene, low-key vacation spot which is a rarity now a days.

Yes, I agree that the hotels/motels were in disrepair, and there should be renovations/new construction. If I recollect correctly, the new construction would still be reasonably priced for visitors. However, there was a caveat that low-cost hotels/hotel rooms would not be located close to the beach. Rather, there would be a walk involved. Therefore, the more affluent visitors would be able to afford the luxurious rooms with the beach view while the remaining less-affluent visitors would be subjected to inferior hotel and room locations.

I believe that Jekyll Island should encourage new hotels/motels which would bring increased tourism and revenue to the shops/historic district. However, the new construction should be limited to re-building only in the original destroyed hotels/motels location. Caps should be placed on the hotel/motel size and price caps should also be placed on the hotel rooms whereby all visitors would be able to afford the beach view hotels/beach view rooms.

I am leaving tomorrow for Jekyll and am looking forward to visiting the quiet, serene island.

Roy

December 9th, 2009
8:28 am

Enter your comments here
Yeah, I agree they could update some places; but for God’s sake can’t we just leave for the most part well enough alone? Jekyll should remain as is, as it was intended.

Leave Jekyll Alone

December 9th, 2009
8:33 am

Let it be……….Let it be

Rob Strickland

December 9th, 2009
8:39 am

I have been going to Jekyll Island with my family since I was 17 years old and I am glad that this developement is not moving forward. I have a picture that was taken this summer with me sitting on the tree that was in the article and I fear that if this project was to move forward, that would not be an option next time I go. I plan on taking the my grandaughter there this summer which would be the 4th generation of my family that will vacation at Jekyll. There are enough high priced, ritzy resorts around the south that people can choose to go to if they want that type of vacation. People go to Jekyll to enjoy the quiet pace, hometown feel and serenity of the island. You can ride your bike around the island, or play golf or go to the water park or just sit on a queit beach without having to worry about being overcrowded. We always rent a house for a week and really enjoy cooking on the grill if we want to or visiting one of the local restaurants that are good. It is also close enough to Brunswick that if you wnat to venture off the island, it is 10 minutes away. Please Governor Perdue, leave Jekyll alone. Dont let your political investor buddies develop this island. If you take a look at the south end of the beach, there are 2-3 hotels that have closed down so I dont think that Jekyll will support any high end resorts.

Chess

December 9th, 2009
8:43 am

I bet the Native American Indians wish they could have stop some development.

Tea

December 9th, 2009
8:51 am

I cheer the disolution of this ill-conceived plan. The JIA LLC deal was in utter conflict with Jekyll’s charter given to it by the State of Georgia: preservation, conservation and ready access for ALL citizens of Georiga. Our public beaches should not be for sale. BTW this failed plan was championed for years by former Ga House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who let the proposed developer drive the project.

Al Bundy

December 9th, 2009
8:54 am

If this was a win-win deal for everyone, why the no-bid contract? Why not let a developer who has the lowest bid do the work, saving the taxpayer money. This was nothing more than a quid pro quo, and the developer backed out once they knew they would miss their financial marks.

More of the same from Sonny and crew.

street smart

December 9th, 2009
9:02 am

MIKE OLSEN———-The Yankees won the Civil War and had Gov Sonny tear down the Confederate/Ga state flag (the flag of slavery), so we will vacation any damn where we please. Dont like it? Then maybe YOU should leave the state,. Anywhere you go will be fine because thanks to us, the USA is a free country.

Dennis

December 9th, 2009
10:05 am

The proposal smelled from the beginning, and thousands of Georgians who love the island as natural as it can stay stood up and said so via letters to their local papers, emails and contacts with the governor’s office. Still, Governor Perdue, the JIA and Linger Longer tried to ram it down their throats.

The announcement by the JIA to disolve the current partnership between the state and Linger Longer clearly indicates that the JIA STILL DOES NOT GET THE MESSAGE that the kind of development and political/financial deals proposed are not necessary and certainly not wanted by those who really care for the island.

That the island is not over developed is its attraction. But you can’t get those with dollar signs in their eyes and political debts to repay understand that.

You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

tc

December 9th, 2009
10:09 am

the redevelopment of Jekyll ranked right up there with Go Fish as a priority…..

Thoreau

December 9th, 2009
10:10 am

There is, indeed, a bright silver-lining to this greed-induced recession. Here’s hoping the storm-clouds of exploitative, runaway development pass far from Jekyll’s still idyllic shores.

Katy

December 9th, 2009
10:54 am

I think it is wonderful. It was a raw deal and anyone that knows the shop owners and locals, would agree. Linger Long was never the right fit. There is a new Hampton Inn opening in January for those who perfer to stay on the beach side. The Jekyll Island Club Hotel has made great improvements with remodeling.

Now, if the new developments in the works are kept in the public, perhaps there will be better agreement on all parties involved when it comes to the new conference center and new shopping complex. However, I do hope that they will steer away from round-abouts and leave the gate and gaurd house where it currently sits so the county is stuck with maintaining the causeway.

Yosemite Sam

December 9th, 2009
10:57 am

What does a millionaire like Jeff Chapman know about people who have lost their construction jobs or whose livelihoods depend on tourism? He knows nothing about that. But he can quote you from the Bible. He even tried to get tax breaks for wealthy people who “gave up” some of their money to help others with medical expenses. Charitable guy, for sure.

HB

December 9th, 2009
10:57 am

Hooray! Yes, hotel renovations are needed. Yes, the convention center needs updating (or possibly to be rebuilt within the same footprint). A very SMALL amount of commercial construction may even be nice. But not a large town center, bigger hotels, and more condos as were planned. I love St. Simons, but we already have one of those. Jekyll is lovely for its own qualities that are distinct from SSI. We can have both kinds of places, a quiet, spacious island and a bustling small town filled with shops and restaurants — why destroy one to make it resemble the other?!

RecessionaryFears

December 9th, 2009
10:59 am

All you have to do to see if a high dollar project will fly on Jekyll is to drive over to St. Simon’s and look how unprofitable the Sea Island Club is these days!I totally agree that the existing rentals should be updated. However, I believe a more conservative moderate upgrade would be more suitable for Jekyll long term.

Rational Planning Needed for Jekyll

December 9th, 2009
11:02 am

Time for a fresh start

Now is the time to begin a rational planning process, and one not held hostage to politicians or development interests. What is appropriate to be built on a fragile barrier island, subject o increasingly higher tide levels and the effects of climate change, man-made or otherwise? Now is the time to bring in people with science backgrounds and expertise in park stewardship. Enough with the political hack companies hired to justify over development and the plundering of an irreplaceable natural wonder which is Jekyll Island State Park

Independent

December 9th, 2009
11:03 am

I am MUCH more likely to continue my lifetime of visits to Jekyll than if this deal had gone through as planned. I had no intention of patronizing any of the Reynolds’ hotels as a matter of principle.

Here’s the JIA’s mission statement right off their web page: “The Jekyll Island State Park Authority shall provide trustworthy stewardship and conservation of our natural and cultural resources, and generate appropriate revenues to sustain, enhance and develop services, programs and amenities that maximize benefits to our customers, guests and employees.”

Thousands of people over the past few years have not perceived the JIA as providing “trustworthy stewardship and conservation.” And in spite of all the attempts by the JIA to paint the opposition as largely a bunch of disgruntled Jekyll residents, that was never the case. The vast majority of us own no property on Jekyll nor could afford to. Moreover, we were never in opposition to some revitalization of the island. This public-private deal where most of the benefits of oceanside development went to the developers as well as giving them first right-of-refusal on proposed projects for the next quarter century was grandiose in the extreme.

I view this turn of events as a chance for the JIA to get it right and show they really are about trustworthy stewardship. From looking at the pictures, the Great Dunes Park looks like a good begining.

Keyworth

December 9th, 2009
11:05 am

I am extremely pleased that the Linger Longer deal fell through. Jekyll never needed the additional commercial development. I’ve been going to Jekyll since I was a small child and never once have I felt that the place needed a makeover. It was always refreshing to come back again and again to a place to find things much the same as they were when I was a kid.

Jekyll is nearly perfect

December 9th, 2009
11:09 am

Rebuild the hotels that the Jekyll Island Board tore down before andyone could protest. Don’t need anything new or grandiose–which nobody can afford anyway. Keep the stores and owners that have been there for decades. Don’t change anything. Jekyll is perfect just the way it is. If you want something else go somewhere else.

Aquagirl

December 9th, 2009
11:10 am

@ Yosemite, Jekyll isn’t a welfare program. Developers and souvenir-hawkers can go elsewhere.

Ron D

December 9th, 2009
11:30 am

Build wisely to attract tourists and not take away from the natural feel of the Island. Right now, I would rather visit Hilton Head than Jekyll. We don’t want a Myrtle Beach feel.

Save Jekyll From Other Big Companies

December 9th, 2009
11:31 am

JIA and Linger Longer was a terrible deal and hopefully Sea Island will stick to Sea Island because as you ought to know by now – Jekyll is a Georgia State Park and Sea Island would bring an end to the beauty and escape of the nature.

If you want crowds with over commercialization and trashy beaches visit St. Simons Island, Tybee Island or just go to Hilton Head in South Carolina. Jekyll offers 22 miles of hiking, biking and jogging trails. The historic districts allows guests the opportunity to travel back in time with trolley tours and carriage ride not to mention the Grand Dining Room and Courtyard at Crane at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel with beautiful rooms and in walking distance to all the historic shops.

Jekyll is peaceful as well as offers locals and guests alike the chance to surround themselves by nature. The state park offers pristine white sand beaches with no condiminiums, hotels or shops to disrupt your experience. What I cannot understand is why they cannot work with the existing conference center, built in the 1950s, because it is a seen by many who study architecture to be a beautiful work from a dying era with it windows looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. I do admit it needs work and expansion – but it would be more environmentally friendly if a company would look at what can be done with it versus demolishing the current building and building a new structure in its place which uses new materials and few that may be able to be salvaged.

With the Jekyll Island Pharmacy going out of business and the gas station has already been closed with the tanks removed, with the other shops at the 1950’s and 60’s strip mall about to be torn down and the loss of two more restaurants because there is no set timeline. What would seem more appropriate would be working with the existing structure and make it an “L” shape expanding the side where the pharmacy currently sits toward the new gas station.

The causeway and road leading to the current convention center is perfectly fine and a waste of time, energy and money to redevelop it.

There is so much to consider. The island needs some renovation but I have heard many guest over nearly a decade of living here say they love the time capsule. Modern does not mean one cannot work what is currently standing, cities do it all the time. Victory is not compete with Linger Longer out of the picture, there is still other bids that will come in.

dealbreaker

December 9th, 2009
11:45 am

This was s “good ole boys” deal from the beginning. Anyone willing to study how JIA conducted its business could only conclude massive incompetence or illegal. Nothing else fits. Does Jekyll need to be improved?…sure it does. Does it need to be improved on 235 acres of mystery land some suspect engineer found under the causeway? That was a sophomoric scam to try to circumvent the 65% rule. It was transparent, flawed and maybe prosecutable behavior. How about the Friday after Thanksgiving 2008 notice of a 7:00 AM Monday conference call vote to give a sweetheart (no-bid, no-cap, lasts forever) contract to Linger Longer. Sure looks like a scenario designed to ram home a decision Many Georgians and concerned groups thought flawed. Was the JIA displaying decisiveness or arrogance? If JIA’s decision was so correct, why the need to create (after the fact) a statewide 20+ member Advisory Board to deflect the criticism of not only the decisions of JIA, but the highly suspect manner they went about it?
Looks like the economy has given us all an opportunity to redo this and get a better solution for the people of Georgia. Let’s do it right this time. No secret deals, no ramrod scheduling, no mystery land, no sleight of hand, no hiding behind procedure, no single source awards of contracts, no breakfast phone votes, and this time without the considerable arrogance of the JIA. Jekyll belongs to Georgians, we deserve a better answer.

CAPTAIN RED BUG

December 9th, 2009
11:45 am

The “revitalization” of Jekyll Island is taking place without the assistance of Linger Longer. The Jekyll Club Hotel and the Historic District has been completely renovated. The brand new Hampton Inn and Suites will open in January. The Jekyll Island Airport has been renovated with a refurbished terminal,a new runway, with new taxiways and ramp areas coming soon. A brand new, very elegant restaurant and pub has just opened in the “Great Dunes” golf complex. Two of the old hotels have been demolished and their replacements are on the drawing boards. Ground breaking for a brand new oceanside park took place on Monday. Your Jekyll Island is receiving a fabulous “makeover” even without Linger Longer. No matter what happens to Jekyll Island just remember one thing. “PEOPLE DO NOT COME TO JEKYLL ISLAND BECAUSE OF WHAT MAN HAS CREATED”

David

December 9th, 2009
11:49 am

Now that the Jekyll Island Authority-Linger Longer Communities development partnership has been dissolved, there is a window of opportunity for the JIA board to amend its approach to the renovation of Jekyll Island State Park and get things right this time. To date, the JIA board has cranked out redevelopment plans largely crafted in a vacuum and shaped by developers who are often more interested in building high-profit condos and time-shares than they are in the state park’s welfare. As a result, those plans have drawn statewide criticism, and Jekyll Island’s revitalization has been delayed as plans proven to be unpopular have ended up being revised or scrapped.

Take, for example, the controversial oceanfront time-share project proposed by Linger Longer. That project was smiled upon by the JIA board despite the fact that statewide surveys of more than 10,000 Jekyll visitors showed nearly unanimous opposition to time-share and/or condominium construction along Jekyll’s currently unobstructed beachfront land. Even the JIA’s own 2006 Guest Survey showed that only 4 percent of the more than 2,600 visitors surveyed favored the construction of more condos and private residences on the island. Even though Linger Longer has now bowed out of the picture, the time-share project is still on the table, tainting an otherwise reasonably popular town center project.

For the sake of a smooth transition to a renovated Jekyll Island, the JIA board should conduct an extensive survey to determine what the citizen-owners of the state park envision for a revitalized Jekyll. Surveying of this type is a vital part of public land planning, as practiced by professionals across the country and within the National Park Service, but for the JIA board public input gathered this way is apparently an alien concept.

Making far-reaching plans for the Jekyll Island State Park’s future without sufficient understanding of what its customer base thinks is bad public policy and a recipe for failure. That pattern of behavior cannot persist if Jekyll’s renovation is to take place in a timely fashion and be applauded by Jekyll’s visitors, who are, after all, the economic engine for the island.

Citizen Owner

December 9th, 2009
12:05 pm

Over the past 3 years we, the citizen owners of Jekyll Island STATE PARK, have pushed to have this island managed as a state park, not a high-end ocean resort. State Parks are not for commercial development and profit making. They are for citizens and visitors to enjoy for their natural scenery and cultural richness. They are also there as habitat havens for wildlife, especially the turtle and migratory birds which live on the island. To justify the need for huge commercial development, the JIA has promoted a “wish list” of “capital improvements” that grew from $50 million, to over $70 million to nearly $110 million in less than two years. I think I heard that an even more recent push by the JIA was for $500 million in capital improvements. All this being justified by the JIA by saying that visitation had declined dramatically in the last few years. Well, I wonder if that had anything to do with letting the hotels fall into disrepair?
We, the owners of that state park say, and have said over and over, “we don’t want capital improvements and commercial development”. Everyone all along has said the hotels need upgrading. But, why not take it a step at a time and see what happens to visitation and park revenues with the hotels restored? We definitely do not want condominiums and time shares on our state park. They do not belong. Nor do up-scale shops and spas and condas, and whatever.
If the JIA is so bent on land development and commercialization, perhaps we could find them some private land somewhere and suggest a job transfer.

Jekyll Lover

December 9th, 2009
12:09 pm

The economy saved us from a disastrous solution. Maybe concerned Georgians should not just change the solution, maybe we should change the team…the JIA…that championed this ill-conceived solution.
I mean, if JIA now has a free ” do-over”, does anyone believe they have the necessary skills to get it right the second time? What changed? Do we have the 9 best qualified Georgians working to find a solution for Jekyll?, With population of 9 million to select from, I just think the “do-over” should be decided by fresh minds.

Angela McKinley

December 9th, 2009
12:13 pm

I am thrilled that the shady back room agreement between Linger Longer and the JIA is off. Refurbishment is still possible without cheating the taxpayers of Georgia, raping and destroying the Island, and lining the pockets of Mr. Reynolds, the JIA board members and Reynolds’ good friend, Gov. Perdue. Thank you Jeff Chapman for bringing this to light.

Georgia Traveler

December 9th, 2009
12:17 pm

There are bugs in the threadbare motels and the convention center is dirty. Sidewalks are broken and in disrepair. Visitation is down and existing businesses are leaving. Bring in some tumbleweed. It’s a ghost town.

Yosemite Sam

December 9th, 2009
12:26 pm

Residents of Jekyll Island like the island just the way it is. They will agree to nothing that threatens to bring more people to their paradise, no matter who’s building it and why. Chapman was duped by them and became their parot. The taxpayers of Georgia should be outraged. They should tell state government to share the land with all of us or make the residents buy it outright at today’s market value. We taxpayers own it, not the residents or the authority.

I love Jekyll

December 9th, 2009
12:30 pm

Yeah! This is the best news I have heard all week. Maybe Jekyll can survive as a place for us “regular folks” despite the intentions of the JIA and Sonny Purdue. The folks that aren’t happy with this news obviously don’t love Jekyll for the same reason the rest of us do. Have you ever walked on Jekyll around sunset and listened to hundreds of birds fly off and not hear any other sounds other than the lapping of waves and the distant motor boat? Have you ever seen baby turtles on an unlighted night time beach? Have you ever stood on the beach at night and looked at the millions of stars in the sky? Have you ever seen bald eagles flying over the bridge to the island? My husband and I have so many happy memories at Jekyll and now that I have a new daughter, I look forward to sharing those with her. Maybe we will be able to continue to have many happy family memories at Jekyll now that it isn’t going to be turned into another Myrtle Beach.

Yosemite Same has it wrong

December 9th, 2009
12:41 pm

Yosemite. Something tells me you are a developer or politician who is trying to set up a straw dog. I’m NOT a resident of the island. I have been coming to Jekyll for more than 25 years. I like Jekyll just the way it is because it is beautiful and accessible to people who don’t have a lot of money to afford ritzy hotels and condos.

Yosemite Same has it wrong

December 9th, 2009
12:45 pm

Make that “straw man”

Aquagirl

December 9th, 2009
12:49 pm

@ Yosemite, back again? Is business that slow at Linger Longer?

DO THE MATH

December 9th, 2009
1:07 pm

Who ever approved the 25 year no-compete contract should be up on Ethics charges and fired. That is no way to run a business, a State Park, or government. It’s a State Park people! not a corner on Peachtree! Keep the big developers OUT!!!!

TOM BOYLEN

December 9th, 2009
1:23 pm

POLITICS AND DEVELOPERS DO NOT MIX WELL FOR THE GOOD OF THE PUBLIC. MONEY IS NOT ALWAYS A PRIORITY TO HAVE A GREAT PLACE TO VISIT. THE BEAUTY OF THE ISLAND IS NATURAL AND DEVELOPMENTS LIKE SHOPPING MALLS, COME AND GO AND LEAVE GAPING HOLES IN THE SURROUNDS……….LEAVE IT ALONE SONNY. LEAVE SOME GOOD IN YOUR NAME!!!

I love Jekyll

December 9th, 2009
1:24 pm

I agree with DO THE MATH. The only way to keep the developers out; is to not have their buddies in a position to vote them IN. WHO voted the developers IN??

Christopher

December 9th, 2009
1:51 pm

The fact is, Jekyll Island needs some newer motels. Beyond that, keep development away. My family and I have enjoyed every visit we’ve made to Jekyll Island for the reason that it is not overrun with development. Too many times, Georgia and other states have given state resources over the developers, who make their millions, while pricing out all but the most affluent among us. I enjoy the fact that I can take my family to Jekyll Island and not have to worry about loud drunks and louder radios. Keep Jekyll Island family friendly.