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The Story of the Triangle

(The Island Club at Retreat)

In the early 1920's, St. Simons Island was mostly vacant wooded land, with scattered houses and a small development at the Village, on the Southeast corner of the Island, which was served by a dirt road, now Demere.

In 1927, there were two significant developments. The first was the completion of the causeway from Brunswick to the Island, which permitted the direct flow of vehicular traffic from the Mainland. The second was the purchase by the Sea Island Company of a great deal of the Island's vacant land, to add to the Company's holdings. The Company had a vision of developing facilities to serve the recreational needs of automobile traffic using the newly built Highway 17. To this end, a resort was built, complete with numerous facilities to serve their guests, including golf courses, tennis courts, and beach houses.

The southern portion of the Island was selected to be the site of the first golf course at Retreat Plantation. A number of roads were built to provide easy access for the guests from the resort to these facilities.

One of the early roads to be built was Kings Way, from the end of the causeway directly to the Village, which provided a short route for the construction traffic to and from the new golf courses. In addition, Retreat Avenue, (which was a dirt road), was improved to permit traffic from Frederica Road to go more directly to the Village, and to Retreat Plantation. While the Sea Island Company built these roads, they were soon deeded to Glynn County.

Thus a triangle of vacant land was created, with Demere one side, Retreat Avenue another and with Kings Way being the final side. The land enclosed became known at the Triangle Tract.

In spite of substantial development in many other areas of the Island, for almost forty years, the Triangle land was dormant, as Sea Island Company was preoccupied with the development of other properties, particularly on Sea Island.

With the advent of a stronger real estate market in the late 60's and early 70's, interest in the development of the Triangle awakened. As a result, a number of developers approached the Sea Island Company with suggestions. The company management decided that it wished to concentrate their development resources in other areas, and sold the Triangle to a group of developers, with other interests on the Island, including the King and Prince and Sea Palms.

In the buoyant real estate market of the mid 70's, the group aggressively proceeded with their plans to improve the Triangle. They envisaged an 18 hole golf course, a clubhouse with other sports facilities, supported by a large residential community. Accordingly, their first step was to have the land rezoned to provide for accommodation for 2,100 units, being a combination of condos, apartments, multiple family dwellings, and a few single-family homes.

In spite of a substantial softening in the local real estate market, and consistent with the pattern of the times, the group built an 18-hole golf course, as well as a club house, and other sports facilities, prior to the marketing of the residential units. Tracts of land adjoining Demere were sold for development of a shopping center, and for other purposes. When the residential lots were ready to be sold, the group found themselves unable to do so, so that with pressure from their lenders, they were forced to declare bankruptcy.

In the late 70's, the Bankruptcy Trustee attempted to sell the Triangle. He was unsuccessful, for a couple of years, until the Sea Island Company was persuaded to repurchase the property.

The Company felt that a reworking of the concept was necessary, and so drew up a new marketing plan. This plan envisioned many fewer units, but larger single-family dwelling lots, so the property was rezoned again reducing the number of units from 2,100 to 397.

Having repaired the golf course, the Company embarked upon an ambitious marketing strategy. The 397 lots were grouped into 9 phases, each phase with a marketing plan of its own. Aided by a revival in the real estate market, the Company placed on the market the first 91 lots in Phase I. Interested buyers were signed up in rotation, first come, and first served, with a maximum of two lots per buyer. The opening started at 9:00 on a Monday morning, and by noon, all 91 lots had been sold, with an additional pent up demand for more lots unsatisfied. As a consequence, the company quickly arranged to offer lots in Phases II and III, which both sold equally quickly.

The Company continued to call for offers on the lots of the remaining phases, until all were sold within a few years.

The marketing of Phase IV was marred by a large bush fire, allegedly lit by vandals, (who reportedly arrived via the Medinah path). The fire destroyed most of the vegetation along Medinah, including a number of trees. To aid the marketing of the Phase IV lots, the Company replanted a large number of trees and shrubs.

As the sale of the lots progressed, the Company initially established and assisted the running of a Property Owners Association, which continues to function to this day. The Company deeded title to all of the roads to the Association, except the main entrance road to the clubhouse and the storm sewer system. With the completion of the sale of their lots, the Company withdrew from the Association and turned over to them the running of the community.

Thus, with the help of many, over the last 75 years, the Triangle has progressed from vacant pasture land to a self supporting premier community, grateful to all those who made it possible.