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Hotel's construction a big step for JIA
The Jekyll Island Authority's vision of a thriving Beach Village with shops and restaurants and flanked by new hotels is closer to reality.

Construction continues to move along on a $41 million Westin hotel following ground-breaking on the project May 20.

It's a big step in the authority's revitalization process centered at the Jekyll Island Convention Center that was opened in 2012, and marketing director Eric Garvey is thrilled to see it all coming together.

"Construction is going great, and they are on schedule to open (in) fall 2014," he said of the Westin. "Cranes are visible and foundation work is ongoing."

Progress on the project stalled in September following Gov. Nathan Deal's announcement that the hotel would not qualify for a new state tourism tax credit.

Now back on track, the 200-room Westin will be only the second hotel built on the island in the past 40 years. The Hampton Inn on the south end of the island was the first.

Garvey says plans for a Hyatt Place hotel are also still possible. A setback occurred with a change in the owner and operator of the proposed hotel, but the company has made a $500,000 commitment to the project.

"Work continues on a new deal with the new owner and operator," Garvey said.

The good news continues for the Beach Village, with only two available spaces left at the future retail center.

The authority board has already approved 11 tenants, which include restaurants and gift shops, and is hoping to fill the remaining spaces quickly. Each space is about 500 square feet.

"There has been strong interest in these remaining spaces," Garvey said.

Already on the list are a beverage store, women's clothing store, an outdoor store, a few realty spaces, a bank, a yogurt shop and a combination market-delicatessen.

Southeast Georgia Health System managers would like to open an immediate care facility in the village.

* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.

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