Conceptual Drawing of the St. Marys Marine Center and the Community Improvement District (CID). Aqua blue areas represents the area for boat docks; light brown colors represent shops and restaurants (two levels), Gray represents parking, Red coloring represents boardwalk areas. Yellow areas represents vacant property owned by the eventual CID. The yellow property may experience further development.

The St. Marys City Council voted unanimously to approve the creation of a Community Improvement District (CID) at Monday’s meeting through a resolution.

The resolution needed to create the CID will be the legislation sent to Atlanta through Representative Jason Spencer, and then the CID legislation is expected to be approved by the Governor by mid-spring. Once approved, construction is expected to start in July of 2018.

CIDs allow developers/owners to request additional millage (taxed at a higher rate) that can then be used to finance public aspects of the project. Fifty acres of the Gilman Old Mill site is expected to be turned into a full marina and boat manufacturing plant near the corner of Osborne and Meeting Street, which will be the proposed CID.

3D Conceptual image of the St. Marys Marine Center and CID location

The CID will set up the following public assets  through an intergovernmental agreement for the proposed St. Marys Marine Center:

  • Roads
  • Water & Sewer
  • Lighting

Once formed, the CID will establish a board with approximately seven members. Most of the members will consist of mostly of property owners within the CID because the developers are taxing themselves at a higher millage rate than those outside of the CID boundaries. Other members will be from the city and the Joint Development Authority (JDA). The board can decide how often to increase the tax rate on themselves to pay back the public bonds.

JDA Executive Director, James Coughlin, stated that the city must continue to move forward with its master plan and the resolution will act as the eventual state legislation that will create the CID.

The St. Marys Marine Center will use a Tax Allocation District (TAD) to allow funds to “flow back” into the Joint Development Authority to pay down the debt on the bonds used for the CID. Tax allocation districts capture incremental property tax revenue increases in a specified geographic area. The economic development, in turn, is expected to stimulate increased growth in tax revenues. Those funds are expected to be valued at $5.5 million. If approved, the additional CID bonds will be $3 million dollars totaling the funding at approximately $8.5 million for that project.

An additional nine acres on the site that can be used to develop light industry. Coughlin stated that a boat company had expressed interest in the site to build a boat manufacturing plant.

The total cost of the marina construction within the CID is expected to cost around $10 million, where approximately $6.5 million will be from public funds through the bonds and public grants. The other $3.5 million will be contributed from the private developer.

Who owns what after the entire project is complete?


  • 35 acres surrounding the marina
  • All vertical construction
  • All boat slips on recreational side of marina


  • Marina basin
  • Repair haul out slips
    • Developer will be the contractor for the haul out slips


  • Roads
  • Water & Sewer
  • Lights

The Meeting Street boat ramp is expected to be updated by the private developer, but the dock is maintained by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The JDA and the DNR will meet Dec. 14th to discuss the intent of the developer’s improvements to the public dock at Meeting Street. Coughlin said the DNR is “very receptive to the idea” and DNR likes the creative proposal and use of the site.

The total timeline for the project is expected to take 15 months due to permitting. The developer is from Alabama, and the property is under contract. The developer was the only one who responded to the Request for Proposal bid process according to Coughlin. The developer has over 30 years of experience in commercial, retail, manufacturing, and other marina operations.

To view the entire work session presentation about the creation of the CID, play the video from AllOnGeorgia – Camden



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Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns.  Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. He and his wife have lived in Camden County for 17 years, and they have two teenage children. Jeremy and his family live in St. Marys, GA and attend the Harbour Worship Center in Kingsland.


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