Developer closes on mill site deal

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Jul. 2—After many failed attempts to repurpose the old Gilman Paper Co. site in St. Marys, a developer has closed on a deal to purchase the 721-acre site.

Atlanta-based Jacoby Development Inc. completed the deal with the Camden County Joint Development Authority Wednesday, paving the way for the site to be developed.

The site was abandoned in 2002 after Durango-Georgia Paper Co. unexpectedly declared bankruptcy, costing more than 900 employees their jobs. The Mexico-based company purchased the mill from the estate of Howard Gilman several years earlier.

Plans for what is being called Cumberland Inlet include a full-service public marina, a town center with a boutique hotel and restaurants, luxury apartments, vacation rentals, an eco-tourism resort and areas of conservation, all designed to blend in with the natural surroundings of St. Marys.

James Coughlin, executive director of the Camden JDA, said the deal was reached after two years of negotiations.

"The JDA and city officials have invested years working to bring economic stimulus to St. Marys and Camden County while repurposing a site that has sat blighted for almost 20 years," he said. "We believe this project will create economic vitality while respecting the natural resources that make this community special, including protection of the famous woodstork rookery."

Jacoby Development will serve as the master developer, but the company will partner with several sub-developers for several elements of the project, Coughlin said.

"They will be involved with constructing upscale sustainable residential and commercial units," he said. "This will include townhomes, condos, cabins and cottages as well as vacation rentals in a phased approach."

Coughlin said it took a team effort to close the deal after so many failed attempts.

"Elected officials and staff from the city, county and JDA all worked together with their respective boards, councils and legal representation for over a year to bring this historic sale to fruition," he said.

Final permits will be revised in the coming months, and ground breaking on one or more of the project elements is expected this fall.

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