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Lanier Islands still mulling what to do with old PineIsle site
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More than a decade after closing the old PineIsle Resort on Lanier Islands, the South Hall resort is trying to decide what to do with the now-vacant property.

The idea of a technology-oriented training and conference center at Lanier Islands resort in South Hall has been given a thumb’s down by a Chicago-based consulting firm.

But that doesn’t mean the resort has ditched the idea of a second hotel on the resort — or some other use of a long-vacant 200-acre site once occupied by PineIsle resort.

“We’re taking the next step trying to determine what is the highest and best use of that site,” Lanier Islands Vice President Grier Todd said last week.

Another thing to consider, Todd said, “Is there a use that might be better than a hotel/meeting space? The good thing about meeting (space) is they’re weather-proof. If you have a rainy summer, it really impacts your recreation business.”

Bill Donohue, executive director of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, said the authority’s board could discuss future development over the next couple of months.

“We think another (hotel) could go there, but we don’t want to put up a brand-new Legacy Lodge,” he said.

The only hotel property on the 1,100-acre resort is Legacy Lodge & Conference Center.

PineIsle had gone through a series of owners over 34 years. The final one, Marriott Corp., closed the hotel on Nov. 4, 2005.

“The roof was leaking,” CEO Mike Williams said in an August 2015 interview. “It was in bad shape. (Before it closed), they were having to sell their rooms real cheap and that was driving down rates at the other hotel.”

Marriott asked the Williams family if the company could get out of its lease and “give us the assets and the building,” Williams said.

After a long evaluation, the family decided to tear down the old hotel rather than rebuild. The 254-room hotel was demolished in April 2008.

The authority and Lake Lanier Islands Management, which operates the resort, decided in the fall to move on the study, conducted by JSL.

In its March report, the firm recommended against putting the technology center at the resort.

“Technology-oriented training is being done often in-house and online, and that trend is expected to continue,” the report states.

Also, “the expectation for a facility located on Lake Lanier Islands is for a resort-type of facility that is comparable to other resorts, and leveraging the lake experience itself.”

The report does say “the expansion and modernization of the Legacy Lodge would increase the ability to attract more demand and potentially boost current occupancy levels.”

Legacy’s guest rooms and meeting space have just been renovated, officials said.

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