Jekyll Island's Temporary Convention Tents Impress

Interim setup is roomier than the old buildings; 'People are overwhelmed with the size.'

Posted: October 12, 2010 - 11:00pm
 
TERRY DICKSON/The Times-Union
 

JEKYLL ISLAND - Leading supervisors on a tour of Jekyll Island's temporary convention and conference facilities, Ronny Smith had a single request.

"Look at it like you're seeing it for the first time,'' said Smith, the Jekyll Island Authority's chief operations officer. "Y'all take notes on anything you see that doesn't look right.''

The collection of enormous tent structures will house their first official function Thursday night, a 600-guest fundraising banquet. The few dozen who supervise workers for the governing Jekyll Island Authority got a literal taste of what that will be like with a luncheon with the same menu as Thursday.

For anyone who wonders how Jekyll Island can continue in the convention business while it tears down and rebuilds a convention center, Executive Director Jones Hooks said the temporary facilities are roomier than the old ones.

"People are overwhelmed with the size,'' he said. "The response has been, this looks better than you tried to convince it would look.''

Indeed, Grand Oaks Hall has about 19,000 square feet, which is larger than the main room at the soon-to-be-demolished convention center. Smaller Magnolia Hall has 9,000 square feet and 10 so-called chalets have 525 square feet each and can be combined to provide more space.

Inside, the structures with their hard walls and carpeted floors don't look like tents. The carpet may look familiar to many because it was removed from the old convention center, cleaned and reused.

"We saved $100,000 by reusing it,'' Hooks said.

As those facilities are doing their job, work continues on the Morgan Tennis Center, an indoor single court built in the 1920s by the millionaire members of the Jekyll Island Club.

It is due to be complete by Nov. 1 in time for Georgia Recreation and Park Association meeting of 500 people on Nov. 2, who are expected to use the Morgan Center, both halls and the chalets.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will use the Morgan Center Nov. 5 and 6.

Bill Murdy is the site superintendent for building contractors Pinkerton and Laws of Marietta, Ga.

Murdy said there were a few surprises including a little termite damage in the building.

"She was a well-constructed building. She's one of the best I've been on,'' he said.

The 14-foot-by-9-foot skylights were so heavy at 1,900 pounds each, they had to be built in place, he said.

The Georgia Farm Bureau, which has been meeting on Jekyll 50 years, is satisfied with the temporary facilities and will hold its convention in the Grand Oaks Hall and other buildings in December.

It was one of the customers the authority sought to assure early on, Hooks said.

That hasn't stopped others from trying to steal Jekyll Island's customers, Hooks said.

"Some of our competitors are telling our clients Jekyll is essentially closed the next two years,'' Hooks said.

The truth is, Jekyll can take more clients than ever before.

terry.dickson@jacksonville.com, (912) 264-0405

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2010-10-13/story/jekyll-islands-temporary-convention-tents-impress#ixzz1EoHPPvRR

Landing Page | Request Info | Contact Us | Downloads