Feb. 22, 2008 - Liberty Harbor Update, Brunswick, GA
Liberty Harbor - Infrastructure 90% Done, Developer Says
Fri, Feb 22, 2008
By LINDSEY ADKISON
The Brunswick News
For some time now, residents have been turning a curious eye toward Liberty Harbor. Talk about the $2 billion, 135-acre luxury waterfront development began about three years ago, but anyone passing the site on the Brunswick River at U.S. 17 has seen little progress. Because of that, speculation about what is or isn't going to happen there has run wild.
Mayor Bryan Thompson says he has been bombarded by questions from citizens about Liberty Harbor. "I hear it all the time, 'Nothing's happening,'" he said. "There is just a lot you don't notice or that you can't see. They've gone through an extensive permitting process on the local, state and federal levels." Among the questions people ask are when abandoned warehouses on the property will be demolished. "They've already taken down six," Thompson said. "The ones that haven't come down are the two that you're always looking at (adjacent to U.S. 17)."
Gary Waxman, principal of Cleveland, Ohio-based Liberty Harbor LLC, developer of Liberty Harbor, acknowledges that there is skepticism surrounding the pace of the project, but says it's because people are unable to see the progress which has been mostly underground. "We're sensitive to the public's perspective, but I don't think they understand the magnitude of what's actually been accomplished," he said. What has been accomplished is installation of infrastructure. Waxman said "Currently we're in the final stages of completing the superstructure. We've been working on that for about a year and a half. I'd say it's 90 percent-plus completed." That includes utilities such as water and sewer "Also the (sewage) lift station, a critical component, is 90 percent-plus completed and all the valves that control the utilities are 90 percent-plus completed," he added. "That all has to be done before you can begin vertical construction (of buildings)."
For those keeping track, some above-ground work has been done. Streets, curbs, gutters and a lagoon have been completed. But there is still quite a way to go. The plan calls for approximately 2,400 condominiums and 300 home sites, plus a collection of high-end retail shops, restaurants, a hotel, boardwalk and marina. Expect construction to begin soon, Waxman said. "We anticipate that in the next couple of months the first houses will be coming out of the ground We had environmental (cleanup) and had to relocate several tenants. We've relocated all of them except one. All of this has been happening, but it's not apparent to the casual observer."
Liberty Harbor officials estimate that work on the new community will occur over a 10-year period. Thompson says the project will be worth the wait. "It's going to bring a lot to the table for the community, as a whole. It will increase property and sales tax revenues." It has already impacted the city in a positive way, Thompson said. "It's triggered investment interest (at the Liberty Harbor site) and on Highway 17. And it's brought national and international focus to Brunswick."
What's next for Liberty Harbor? A marina, Waxman says, noting the development now has a permit for 450 wet slips. "One of the main aspects of the development is the marina," Waxman said. "Although the marina was approved sometime last year, we just got the final permit back from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week." Overall, work at Liberty Harbor is as it should be, Waxman said. "We're pretty relaxed about the timeline. From a progress standpoint, we're right on time or maybe ahead. We're building a city within a town."