MARATHON -- Progress is slow on Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris's effort to transform Valhalla Island into a resort, according to city officials.
Morris owns 69 acres from U.S. 1 to the ocean, including high ground, mangroves and submerged land.
According to Marathon Planning Director George Garrett, Morris has a development agreement with the city to re-plat the island into 14 estate-style lots.
Morris has not yet submitted an official project proposal to the city, but Garrett said he has been shown a rendering for a potential resort to be built on the island.
While there's been discussion that Morris is planning a fishing resort of some sort, Garrett told the Free Press he won't speculate on the final plan until one is brought before the City.
Morris' property manager, Mike Dunham, said the final use of the property is still under discussion.
Morris plans to do something "very authentic that pays tribute to the area and the history of fishing in the Keys," Dunham said.
Among other ideas, Morris is considering a children's camp to "get kids more educated about fishing and the outdoors," Dunham said, but he is "considering several different design options."
The parcels Morris owns on Valhalla Island and on either side of Ocean Drive are zoned for mixed use, which would allow Morris to use them for commercial, residential or retail purposes. All other parcels are zoned as conservation-native area, which means development options are limited in order to protect native plant and animal species, including the mangroves.
The Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce is excited about the prospects for a new destination resort.
"The Marathon chamber and board of directors are always encouraged to see responsible new ventures and attractions," chamber CEO Daniel Samess said. "Anything that adds value to our destination is a positive, and something we strongly support and encourage."