Saturday, November 3, 2007

10/12 - Straight from the source

Date October 12, 2007
Section(s) Commentary
The Brunswick News

As we choose the best path to becoming a better Jekyll Island, there will of course be disagreement along the way.

With guidance from the Bleakly Advisory Group, a professional real estate consulting firm, the Jekyll Island Authority conducted a very detailed and thorough Request for Proposal (RFP) to select a private partner for the revitalization of Jekyll Island.

During this process, all finalists asked the Jekyll Island Authority questions and received answers at a mandatory proposers' meeting on June 25 and also online at

The RFP primarily addresses the Town Center Site because the Jekyll Island Authority wanted to receive readily quantifiable and comparable offers for a specific property and project.

The RFP also discusses the Jekyll Island Authority's desire to enter into a long-term partnership with the selected developer based on the results of this first project.

Proposers are encouraged to discuss their interest in becoming the authority's long-term development partner and how they would propose structuring the partnership in terms of future development opportunities on Jekyll Island.

It could include a discussion of future development options, management of the authority's existing amenities and proposed financial structure.

In a public meeting on Sept. 24, The Bleakly Advisory Group also gave the full board of the Jekyll Island Authority a detailed briefing of their rankings and the various strengths and weaknesses of each proposal based on the following specific criteria:

* Developer qualifications and experience

* Financial strength/financing plan

* Quality and character of the Town Center plan

* Responsiveness to RFP purpose and objectives

* Responsiveness during interviews

* Without dissent the board reaffirmed its desire to select a private partner who best understood and supported the authority's mission to protect and preserve Jekyll's eco-system, to maintain low residential density and to significantly upgrade the island's hotel and convention offerings while keeping all accessible and available to all Georgians.

The Jekyll Island Authority Selection Committee unanimously endorsed the Bleakly Advisory Group recommendation of Linger Longer Communities.

Following a motion to adopt the Selection Committee recommendation by Finance Committee Chairman Bob Krueger, and seconded by fellow board member and former state Sen. Ed Boshears, Linger Longer Communities was unanimously selected as the Jekyll Island Authority's Private Partner designee.

These new or renovated retail, convention and hotel properties will lure new visitors, as well as replace the three hotels we have already lost, and substantially improve our offering to mid-sized conventions, professional and trade associations, and non-profit and church groups who have long called Jekyll their second home.

The next few years will be an exciting time for Georgia's Jewel as an expected half-billion dollars in new investment and improvements are poured into the island.

And all of this will occur at almost no Georgia state taxpayer expense, as even bonded debt will be repaid from hotel/motel taxes, lease payments and user fees at the golf courses, convention center and other island attractions and amenities.

While we can't stop rumors from spiraling out of control or improve the flavor of the sour grapes of a few, we can do our level best to provide you fully with the facts and to polish Georgia's Jewel to its brightest shine ever.

- Bill Donohue is the executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority.

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