Georgia's Jekyll Island Introduces New Plan to Attract Meetings, Tourists

Architects in Jekyll Island, Ga., have unveiled a new revitalization plan designed to attract more tourists and conventions to the state-owned island, the Jekyll Island Authority announced last week.

The plan for Jekyll Island Beach Village has been in the works for several years and initially called for a massive $352 million development that included $500,000 condos, a new luxury hotel and a new main thoroughfare connecting visitors directly to an upgraded convention center.

Introduced at a public presentation last week, the revised design calls for a $100 million development that includes two new hotels and a new 50,000-square-foot convention center exhibition hall. It has scrapped the condo development and the original thoroughfare, however, in favor of a main road that emphasizes beach views and a new downtown area comprised of shops and restaurants.

"If you're a meeting planner, you want a location where you have other things to do and walkable amenities," Mike Chatham, the project's lead architect, told the Jekyll Island Authority in a presentation last week. "We want to create a downtown where people can see what's happening."

According to the Associated Press, which reported on last week's presentation, tourism in Jekyll Island has fallen from a peak of 2.1 million visitors nearly a decade ago to 1.49 million in 2008. Local officials hope its revitalization—construction on which is set to begin in December, with a target completion date of 2012—will help the island destination recapture lost visitors and attract new ones.