Edifice wrecks waterfront park hopes

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
April 1, 2020

Funny things happen in the final days of the Florida Legislative Session, and 2020 was no exception. Despite a last minute flurry of activity to address the coronavirus,  a private bill with significant impact for waterfront development plans in Fernandina Beach slipped under the radar, achieving approval with no discussion or fanfare.

The Legislature approved a request from the MAGA Corporation, Inc. to exercise eminent domain powers and exceed city height requirements to build a truly massive hotel on the city’s riverfront at the foot of Centre Street.  The hotel will be modeled after Rome’s Victor Emmanuel II monument, which is 442 feet wide and 230 feet tall.  The upper section of the monument consists of a huge curved colonnade with 50ft tall columns with small temple-like wings. 

The size and location of the edifice will require relocating existing structures like the Veterans Monument and the Shrimpers Monument, apparently to be replaced by a large statue of an as yet unnamed modern American President.

The hotel will be the flagship of a major chain boasting luxury hotels and resorts around the world.

Benito Briscola

The architect for the project is a leader in classical Italian design, Benito Briscola.  This will be his first project in the United States.

Briscola said, “We’re grateful to the Legislature for sharing our vision that the Amelia Riverfront is a perfect setting for a unique, luxury experience.  The view from the top floors, all the way to Brunswick, GA, will be breathtaking.  The helicopter landing pad will sit atop the roof and not obstruct the views even a little bit.”

While many details remain to be worked out, some of the plans include a world class casino, many upscale dining and retail opportunities.  The Presidential Suite, occupying most of the top floor, will be reserved for use of the owner and his family along with heads of state from around the globe and their security details.  The owner, who currently chooses to remain anonymous, maintains his official residence in Palm Beach, FL.

As part of the grand plan for the new hotel, MAGA plans to reopen passenger rail service to Fernandina Beach, and berth a cruise ship alongside the hotel in the abandoned federal channel.

Briscola said, “This will be huge for Fernandina Beach and add a new flag to the island’s colorful history.”

Some have speculated that this is only the first step in MAGA’s plans to rebrand Amelia Island as the entertainment mecca of Florida, following the destruction to businesses in South Florida  caused by the coronavirus.  Representatives have been exploring building a theme park on what is today the city golf course.  Also contemplated is a huge amphitheater where earlier plans to build a car-centric complex failed to materialize.

Unconfirmed reports say that this same firm is in negotiations with the U.S. Postal Service to take over the Historic Centre Street Post Office as well.  The interior would be gutted and replaced by a giant indoor swimming pool and a botanical garden.

“Of course,” Briscola said, “this is a multi phase plan that will require widening existing roads and probably some eminent domain actions for the public good.”

The Fernandina Observer will not cover future developments of these plans for a good reason:  April Fool’s Day only comes once per year!

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Janet Michea
Janet Michea (@guest_57037)
3 years ago

Upon reaching the end of this article my BP and heart rate are slowly returning to normal. Whew.

Terri Wenzelburger
Terri Wenzelburger (@guest_57038)
3 years ago

You just gave me a heart attack! April Fool!

Larry Myers
Larry Myers (@guest_57039)
3 years ago

Well Done !!!
You had me HOOKED to the last sentence !!!

Klynt A. Farmer
Klynt A. Farmer (@guest_57040)
3 years ago

Sadly this isn’t that far fetched with the way things are today amongst the “good ole boys.”

Mark Tomes
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
3 years ago

Haha! Good one!

Nancy Fishburn
Nancy Fishburn(@naf1313yahoo-com)
3 years ago

Thanks, I needed that! I am smiling.

Penny Landregan
Penny Landregan (@guest_57043)
3 years ago

All I was saying as I read it was “oh no, how did this get past our manager, commissioners and public outcry”. It was so disturbing, I didn’t even laugh at the last sentence.

Theresa Hamilton
Theresa Hamilton (@guest_57044)
3 years ago

“Edifice Wrecks”. Well done.

Jennifer Crew
Jennifer Crew (@guest_57045)
3 years ago

Thank you for the sense of humor during this time. Laughter is always good medicine.

bobby carter
bobby carter (@guest_57046)
3 years ago

MAGA !!!!! yeah !!!!!

Tammi Kosack
Tammi Kosack(@tammi-kosack)
3 years ago

Suanne you must’ve been working on this for the past year!! Outstanding detail and the name of the architect quite clever–I daresay it trumps all other elements of the article. 🙂

The waterfront has provided much fodder for April 1 these past couple of years eh?

Elaine Abel
Elaine Abel(@nelliegirl)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tammi Kosack

Thank goodness for Google translate….I would have missed this detail!!! Excellent!

Anita Oliver
Anita Oliver (@guest_57050)
3 years ago

Didn’t get me. I had just had an April fool discussion but great article and probably would have been hooked if not really aware of the date.

Suzanne McLeod
Suzanne McLeod (@guest_57052)
3 years ago

Phew is right! Heart attack over! Got me!

Dave Austin
Dave Austin (@guest_57053)
3 years ago

Well done. I hope the story was a fun to write as to read.

Neil Blalock
Neil Blalock (@guest_57054)
3 years ago

Having embraced the development behind me I was really excited about this news. Too bad it was only a fantasy Or is it?

Emylee McBrearty
Emylee McBrearty(@emyleemaol-com)
3 years ago

Thanks for the laugh! I think we all need a few!

Aggie Swails
Aggie Swails (@guest_57057)
3 years ago

Ouch! Scared me to death!

John Goshco
John Goshco (@guest_57058)
3 years ago

Very well done. Thanks!

Mary Anne Sharer
Mary Anne Sharer(@mwaikartgmail-com)
3 years ago

The MisLeader strikes again — and I don’t mean the newspaper!! Well done, Suanne!!

Karen Montgomery
Karen Montgomery (@guest_57060)
3 years ago

Well done! Gut wrenching, right up to the last sentence.

Logan Henderson
Logan Henderson (@guest_57061)
3 years ago

Great way to start the day with a good laugh!

Joan Cipriano
Joan Cipriano(@islandcipscomcast-net)
3 years ago

Move over, Andy Borowitz. Suanne is here.

Lou Goldman
Lou Goldman(@lgoldmngmail-com)
3 years ago

I heard that the waterfront committee was considering a package like this. It’s not true?

Alexandra Lajoux
Alexandra Lajoux (@guest_57065)
3 years ago

Now that would be a real-life horror movie. Thanks for the happy ending, Suanne: It was just an April Fool’s nightmare!

Gail Cook
Gail Cook (@guest_57066)
3 years ago

You definitely got me!!!!

Jan Preus
Jan Preus (@guest_57068)
3 years ago

We are Cape Cod residents who have spent 15 of the last 17 winters in and around Fernandina Beach with the hope of one day living there. Before I reached the last paragraph, I thought my head was going to explode. We so love Amelia Island and find many of the characteristic that we love about our small, historic village of Sandwich, MA also in Amelia Island. We do, however. appreciate the humor.

David Olson
David Olson(@sailorman)
3 years ago

Glad to hear of this minor change to the waterfront, which will be renamed Trump North. It will be part of the rescue of the cruise industry. I have it on unreliable authority that the Carnival Cruise Lines, a major supporter of MAGA, will be receiving government money to build a cruise ship dock facility in front of the hotel. This will encourage passengers, who would otherwise have to drive to Port Everglades, to board here. Just think of what 3,000 passengers coming and going on Center St. will do for local businesses. WOW What a gift for us. Of course they will stay and enjoy our free beach and parking.

Dave Lott
Dave Lott(@dave-l)
3 years ago

Thanks for the clarification. I thought it was MFGA (Many from Georgia) that were the financiers of this imposing edifice. Happy April Fool’s Day.

Dave Scott
Dave Scott (@guest_57071)
3 years ago

Suanne, the News Wrecker is looking for reporters if you’re interested.

C. A. McDonald
C. A. McDonald (@guest_57072)
3 years ago

What a delight! Suanne you’ve outdone yourself! I forwarded to all my Millennial and Gen Z kids. They were up in arms that a new hotel that we couldn’t afford was taking over our riverfront.

Thanks so much for bringing light and joy in the midst of these difficult and challenging days!

You are a gem!

Christine Harmon
Christine Harmon (@guest_57073)
3 years ago

Well done Suzanne! By far, one of the best satires I’ve read in years. Thank you.

Jon Cantrell
Jon Cantrell (@guest_57074)
3 years ago

Holy smokes! I was fix’n to go into cardiac arrest! Great job!

Nancy Shores
Nancy Shores (@guest_57086)
3 years ago

Phew…..I was distraught, paragraph by morbid paragraph, quickly sinking into the deepest recesses of my brain’s three minute fight or flight chaos. Don’t do this again and nobody gets hurt!

Bonnie Eisele-DeMerle
Bonnie Eisele-DeMerle (@guest_57106)
3 years ago

You REALLY got me with this one, Suanne. My heart was in my stomach and my stomach was upset until the last sentence!!