JDA Approves $10M bond issue for project

Jun 3, 2021, by Jill Helton, Tribune and Georgian.

Cumberland Inlet, a proposed mixed use development on the former paper mill site in St. Marys, saw some major progress this week with the approval of a $10 million bond issue by the Camden County Joint Development Authority(JDA).

The developer — Jacoby Development Inc. (JDI) — will be required to pay the county back for the use of those funds, but JDA members expect that to be a relatively small portion of what they receive in return.

“When the Cumberland Inlet project is completed, the JDA investment is expected to result in a $500 million venture that began with the seed money of a publicly issued JDA $10 million bond,” said board chair Tanya Glazebook, adding this would the largest-ever private sector investment in county history. She said JDA board members had some “candid and diffi cult discussion in executive session” leading up to the public vote, whicwas unanimous.

The bond will facilitate the purchase of the 700-acre property by JDI, which has been in talks with the Camden representatives for the past two years. JDA and JDI signed an agreement last year in which the JDA stipulated nine conditions that had to be met by the developer before the JDA would issue the bond.

“JDA wanted a level of assurance that the developer could repay the bond. All successful public/private partnerships require financial investment that the developer could repay the bond. The last two closing conditions were met last week clearing the way for the board vote today,” Glazebrook said.

She also thanked executive director James Coughlin and his staff, as well as former board chair Jeff Barker, for their tireless work over the last two years bringing the project to this point.

The JDA worked for years to recruit developers that had a reputation for breakthrough projects and experience with Brownfields sites. “Among those developers, one stood out as having a vision, the experience and sensitivity to local concerns that would enhance the success ratio. Convincing James Jacoby to take another look at the property he was once interested in, JDA staff worked closely with Jacoby and potential sub developers to move the project forward,” Glazebrook said, reading from a prepared statement. “The COVID impact slowed the process but not the enthusiasm of the interest. It became clear Jacoby had a passion for the potential of Cumberland Inlet.”

It has been almost two decades that the waterfront property has been dormant. Although the buildout will take several more years, JDI has shared some of their plans for the property, which include digging a lagoon and constructing a full-service marina to accommodate larger yachts and boats.

During a JDA meeting a year ago, Jacoby representative John Loudon said they had already gotten some private companies on board to work on the marina portion of the property. Adjacent to the marina will be “dry stacks” for boat storage. Also farther along the riverfront site will be multi-use property (condos, apartments for over 55, military and vacation rentals) and some commercial space. Those areas will be buffered with recreational, park and greenspace areas, including the large elevated hill overlooking the North River.

The plans call for a “flex marina” farther back into the river, which could also include such amenities as arestaurant and kayak launch, Loudon said.

One of the best-kept secrets about the mill property is that it includes a worldclass rookery that is teeming with waterfowl and all sorts of native and migratory wildlife throughout the year. Loudon said that area holds loads of potential as an eco-tourism attraction.

With the lowest impact camping located nearest to the rookery, the site could include everything from primitive camping with tents to luxury RV and motor coach camping, he added.

The site is so massive that many areas have simply been earmarked for future development or recreational space. Developers envision Cumberland Inlet will be a destination maximizing on the natural attributes of the Intracoastal Waterway while also filling some gaps in the local residential market.

“This plan won’t happen all at one time. It will be phased in to help us adjust to the marketing,” Loudon said. “We tried to make our project as flexible as possible so we can keep moving.”

Source: Tribune and Georgian