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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - 12:35pm

Troubled Sea Island Co. Sells Land

The Sea Island Company, facing massive debts, has sold off three large tracts of land on Georgia's coast.

So far, those tracts do not include The Cloister, the five-star resort that hosted the 2004 G8 Summitt.

The tracts sold represent more than 20,000 acres. They are Altama Plantation and Sinclair Plantation in Glynn County and Big and Little Pastures at Cabin Bluff in Camden County.

This week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, the company's restructuring also includes the sale, possibly soon, of the resort and the likely ouster of its longtime C.E.O., Bill Jones III.

The Jones family has run the company for 82 years.

Russ Marane of the St. Simons Island Land Trust says, the company's troubles don't erase its historical legacy.

"You would never find a better land steward than Sea Island Company," Marane says. "They owned a lot of property."

The company is the Brunswick area's largest employer and a local philanthropic force.

Marane says, he hopes the land's new owners, Dallas-based investment firm Stratford Land, will be as conservation-minded as Sea Island, a major conservation land donor.

"There's been a lot of conservation work done on the Altamaha River," he says of one sold tract, Altama Plantation near Brunswick. "This is one the pieces that is an important part of that conservation effort."

A Stratford official told the Georgia Times-Union that the company has no plan to rezone the properties.

A Sea Island spokesman told GPB that he would not comment on the C.E.O.'s future and said the sale of more than 20,000 acres is just that and nothing more.

The Sea Island Company announced in January that it defaulted on a debt restructuring agreement.

Company officials say, they're still looking at all options to right the company's finances.

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