James Robert Ward and his privately held company Land Resource developed and marketed luxury, second-home communities in some of the most scenic and environmentally prized locales in the Southeast.
According to the company's now-defunct Web site, Land Resource was founded in 1997 by Ward. The company boasted of twice being chosen to host HGTV's Dream Home — once at Land Resource's Cumberland Harbour in St. Marys, Ga., and also at Grey Rock in Lake Lure, N.C.
The Web site said Land Resource had completed communities with names such as Avery Park and Blue Mist Farms near Asheville, N.C.; Laird Bayou in Panama City; and Goodfield Landing in Decatur, Tenn. Among its "available communities" listed were Bridge Point at Jekyll Sound in Waverly, Ga., and the Cumberland Harbour project.
The latter development drew attention late last year when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of Land Resource's plans to build marinas with dock space for nearly 200 boats, dry-dock storage for 400 boats and up to 92 docks on home sites near coastal marshlands. Cumberland Harbour was considered one of the "largest private marina projects in the state," according to local news reports. And environmentalists had argued that the dock project could adversely affect water quality and threaten marine life.
The favorable ruling, which came shortly after Land Resource filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, was key because the marina was one of the company's selling points for the property near Cumberland Island National Seashore. In 2004, Land Resource called for 1,000 homes at Cumberland Harbour.
On Wednesday, St. Marys City Manager William Shanahan said a number of homes at the development are occupied and infrastructure is in place in some areas there, but he was unavailable to discuss the status of the project further.
Meanwhile, officials in Camden County, Ga., have posted regular updates for landowners at the proposed Bridge Pointe at Jekyll Sound project. Those updates came about after Land Resource's financial problems became public last year. The project remains unbuilt and lacks infrastructure, according to Camden County Administrator Steve Howard. "No lots were developed," Howard said.
More than 400 Jekyll Sound lots were purchased by individuals.
The remaining lots — 280 or so — and a marina were purchased recently by a group of investors who may be interested in developing the land. The best scenario would be for that group to arrange for the infrastructure and develop the property, Howard said.
"At some point I would assume that the market will turn and that it will become attractive again," said Howard, adding that the overall site provides direct access to the Atlantic by boat. Howard said he had never met Ward.
A Web site for the Jekyll Sound project said the site "occupies 1,012 acres of some of coastal Georgia's loveliest landscape." Early on, the community was slated to have 607 home sites.
Anthony Colarossi can be reached at 352-742-5934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.