Wednesday, November 14, 2007

11/12 - Ceremony to mark Buccaneer's demise

Date November 12, 2007
The Brunswick News

After 48 years of accommodating countless guests, the Buccaneer Beach Resort on Jekyll Island will soon be little more than a memory for the thousands who vacationed there.

The hotel's demolition is scheduled to begin Tuesday with a ceremony that will include the partners in the proposed redevelopment of the island, the business community and the state hospitality association.

Demolition of the Buccaneer will take several weeks.

The company contracted to raze the structure, CST Environmental Inc., of Orlando, plans to salvage much of what has held the resort together throughout its almost five decades of existence.

"Modern demolition is more than just taking a wrecking ball in there and piling it all up," said Eric Garvey, director of marketing and business for the Jekyll Island Authority. "Like pieces are piled together and are then sold off to recycling firms, which is why the process takes so much time.

"My understanding is that they even recycle concrete, grinding it up and using as aggregate."

There's also a matter of removing the structure without threatening or destroying the tree canopy.

"A big part of the initial work is tree protection, and their arborist will be down monitoring the identification and protection of the trees," Garvey said.

The demolition crew should have the Buccaneer completely torn down by the end of the year, he said.

Though there have been other hotel demolitions recently on Jekyll Island, this one marks the first big step toward the greater revitalization plans.

Those plans call for $441 million in redevelopment projects that will include new hotels, condominiums, new convention center, and new commercial shopping district.

"This is the most visible big step," Garvey said. "The demolition of the Buccaneer marks the next phase."

The New Year will bring the next phase, the actual construction.

Hearings will be held around the state to collect public input on the redevelopment plans. On the coast, two meetings are planned Wednesday, one at 9:30 a.m. at Heritage Bank in St. Marys and the other at 3:30 p.m. at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

Public input meetings also are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the National Science Center in Augusta and at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Cobb Galleria on Cobb Parkway in Atlanta.

"We are expecting construction to begin in the first quarter, maybe some time in February or March," Garvey said.

First, though, there's the matter of taking down the Buccaneer, which has a long history on the island.

Sam Snead's 96-unit Buccaneer Motor Lodge opened in May 1961. The next year the use of Snead's name was discontinued and the motel simply became known as the Buccaneer Motor Lodge.

Additions were made to the motel in 1967 and 1969, increasing the number of rooms of the popular retreat to 206.

In 1985 it became the Quality Inn Buccaneer and in the 1990s was named the Clarion Resort Buccaneer.

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