Lanier Islands is a 1,500-acre resort on Lake Lanier, a recreational and drinking water reservoir near Atlanta. Client LLI Management Company, LLC, which is owned by the family of Virgil Williams, a well known local businessman, acquired the rights to operate the resort in 2005. More than a decade later, LLI Management sought a partnership with Knoxville, Tennessee.-based Safe Harbor Development in which Safe Harbor would manage the LanierWorld Beach and Water Park, the marinas, the campgrounds and special events programming at the resort. In turn, Safe Harbor would partner with Margaritaville Holdings, owned by the singer Jimmy Buffett, to assist with some of the operations. LLI Management would continue to own the Lanier Islands hotel business and manage its accommodations, meeting and wedding sites, equestrian center, and Legacy on Lanier Golf Club. Arnall Golden Gregory was tapped to sort out the legal complexities of the new LLI Management-Safe Harbor alliance and its lease arrangements.
The Lanier Islands real estate is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which leases it to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which subleases it to the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, which sub-subleases it to LLI Management. AGG constructed a sublease of the various venues, together with an overarching cooperation agreement between LLI Management and Safe Harbor, so that Lanier Islands could be viewed as a single operating venue but with separate corporate owners from a legal operating perspective.
Millions of dollars in improvements will be made at Lanier Islands over the next several years. “This new partnership is a huge step in taking the Islands to the next level for the benefit of not only our guests, but for the great State of Georgia,” Virgil Williams said in a statement.