Friday, August 3, 2007

08/03 - Letters: Is it really such a good deal for Jekyll?

The Brunswick News
Fri, Aug 3, 2007

The Jekyll Island Authority's letter, "Hotel deal will spur Jekyll revitalization," trumpets a list of benefits and projected income from the 540 room hotel/condominium complex which will replace the 200-room Buccaneer Hotel.

However, if it really were such a good deal, why did Jekyll Island Authority Board of Directors chair Ben Porter withhold the cost of his giveaways from his own board members during their closed session on July 9, and then conceal the information from the public during the open meeting the same day?

Since then, the authority has steadfastly refused to reveal the schedule of concessions, which other sources put at $10,026,844, or more than 67 percent of the projected fees owed by the developer to the authority during the first 10 years.

Porter's actions are violations of the Open Meetings Act and currently the subject of complaints to the Attorney General of Georgia.

As a result of Porter's 67 percent giveaway, every future developer and present hotel owner is going to demand the same and more concessions from the authority.

That does not give Porter much else to give away – except possibly a golf course and new residential leases to other developers.

As far as the proposed $90 million development (300 rooms plus 240 condos), it does not take a rocket scientist to see it is going to be a huge bonanza for Trammell Crow without any concessions.

Any fourth grader should be able to do the math on the back of a postage stamp (240 x $400,000 = $96 million).

The best thing one can say about Porter is that he needs a dose of Gov. Sonny Perdue's real estate savvy plus a touch of the governor's promised ethics reform.

Joseph Iannicelli