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Could downtown Margaritaville high-rise bring urban timeshares to Atlanta?

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An under-construction Nashville location will offer “vacation ownership units,” too. But who’s buying?

A rendering for a planned 29-story Margaritaville resort hotel recently unveiled for New York City near Times Square. Atlanta’s incarnation would be a few floors shorter.
A peek at the proposed Margaritaville high-rise in Times Square. Atlanta’s could have a skyscraping outdoor pool, too.
Margaritaville Blog

Despite concerns that its development would require leveling two historically important buildings, downtown’s proposed Margaritaville resort complex could bring a unique lodging option for urban vacationers.

The Jimmy Buffett-branded high-rise, led by the development partnership of Wyndham Destinations and Margaritaville Vacation Club, is slated to rise across the street from Centennial Olympic Park.

As proposed, it would deliver a 21-story resort decked out with 200-plus “vacation ownership units”—condos, perhaps?—and a two-story, 14,000-square-foot Margaritaville restaurant.

Unlike the waters of Key West, however, exactly what those vacation ownership units will be remains unclear.

A project spokesperson declined to clarify how the units would be operated when asked via email this week.

But if the downtown Atlanta development is to be anything like the Margaritaville resort tower going up in Nashville, urban timeshares could be en route to our city

It seems like a novel idea, since people tend to scout areas near beaches and other natural majesties, not skyscrapers, when it comes to shared vacation homes.

It’s too soon to say whether Margaritaville’s upcoming Times Square high-rise will include timeshare options, too, but some New York City journalists are discussing the cultural impact that a Jimmy Buffett-style tourist destination could have on the community.

Granted, they don’t seem to think Times Square is all that cool now, anyway.

“Is Margaritaville a sign that Times Square is well and truly over as a place that actual New Yorkers would ever dare to tread?” asked Condé Nast Traveler writer Paul Brady.

He continued: “Reactions among Condé Nast Traveler editors were mixed, with a few sarcastic takes on the news including ‘just when you thought Times Square could not get any cooler’ and an ‘I demand a group outing there.’”

For another perspective, whip up a boat drink and set your mind adrift to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee’s Margaritaville Island Hotel and Inn—one of the few resorts disconnected from a major beachfront. It shares a hometown with Dollywood, an amusement park co-owned by country singer Dolly Parton, among other tourist traps.

And while it’s decidedly non-condo in nature, the resort earns 4.5 of 5 stars from nearly 800 Google reviewers. Opined one reviewer a month ago: “I can’t say enough about this hotel, it was absolutely wonderful.”

That’s the Smokies, sure, but would people pay to own a piece of downtown Atlanta property for that sort of escapism, for just part of each year? One that’s essentially sandwiched between the iconic, Olympics-era park and the revered Tabernacle music hall, with major sports attractions nearby?

The Atlanta location might be alluring. But urban timeshare sales, it appears, are not a popular business venture.

One of the few big hospitality institutions known for investing in the idea is Marriott. The company’s Vacation Club Pulse was launched a few years ago to market timeshare options in cities such as New York, Boston, D.C., Miami, and San Diego, according to Skift.

Hilton dabbles in intown timeshares, too.

But there’s also the possibility the timeshare industry may be waning in general.

Robert Shaw, an Orlando-based senior finance executive and Certified Public Accountant, said the industry has experienced a “drastic rebound since the recession,” which could lead some to believe the market is healthy.

But most of the observed bounce-back, he said, happened thanks to preexisting timeshare owners.

Timeshare companies, Shaw wrote on investment blog SeekingAlpha, need to find better ways to engage prospective millennial buyers if they expect to survive. The average timeshare owner’s age, as of July 2016, when the article was published, was 51.

(A different SeekingAlpha report suggested timeshare stocks could be a “ticking time bomb.”)

Another reason some Atlantans have raised eyebrows about the downtown resort tower: It’s development will require the demolition of a few small buildings. One of the structures to be downed just might be the uncelebrated birthplace of country music.

At left, 152 Nassau Street, the site of the first country recording, and 141 Walton Street. Both would be demolished.
Google Maps

At 152 Nassau Street—a piece of the plot on which Margaritaville’s complex is expected to rise—“Fiddlin’” John Carson recorded the country music album that put the genre on the music scene map in 1923, according to WABE.

Additionally, the other historic structure on the development site, located at 141 Walton Street, played a pivotal role in the inception of Atlanta’s film scene, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Not every development involving Buffett in metro Atlanta has been controversial this year.

The Margaritaville brand also recently moved forward on an overhaul of the 1,500-acre Lake Lanier Islands resort complex. The attraction has added two new party yachts to its summertime repertoire.

Centennial Olympic Park

285 International Boulevard NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 404 223 4412 Visit Website