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Jekyll board approves deal for hotel
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ATLANTA (AP) — Jekyll Island's governing board on Monday approved a series of agreements with a developer to get a 200-room beachfront Westin Hotel project back on track, a spokesman for the island authority said.

The hotel is part of a broader plan to revitalize the tourist destination. The Jekyll Island Beach Village project also includes an adjacent convention center that just opened and plans for a second hotel, new shops, restaurants and public parks along the beach.

"It's hard to overstate how important this is," Jekyll Island Authority spokesman Eric Garvey said of the $41 million Westin project.

"The new convention center opened in May to rave reviews, but it's critical that we have the new hotel just adjacent to it to really make it all work," he said.

Construction of the Westin was to have started in September, but developers were unable to secure needed financing.

The agreements approved Monday by the board, meeting on Jekyll Island, allow the project to move forward, Garvey said.

"The timeline becomes more definite now that these agreements have been passed," he said.

Under the deal approved Monday, the Westin hotel must be under construction by April 30, 2013. It must be opened by Aug. 31, 2014.

The board approved a deal to use the new Jekyll Island Tourism Development Fund to enable the developer to secure financing for the Westin. The fund uses a portion of the hotel/motel tax collected from overnight visitors to the island.

For the first 10 years, the Westin Jekyll Island will be eligible to receive funds from the Jekyll Island Tourism Development Fund to help market property, the authority said in a statement. The 10-year total of the incentive amounts to $6.1 million.

Also planned is a 135-room Hyatt Place Hotel one block from the beach.

When completed, Jekyll Island Beach Village will be able to host 120 conventions per year, according to projections from the authority.

"The beachfront Westin will play a significant role in attracting businesses and leisure guests from across the country to Jekyll Island and the coast of Georgia," Bob Krueger, chairman of the Jekyll Island Authority, said in a statement.

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