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Unveiling Gwinnett Center”s master plan

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Preston Williams
General Manager of The Gwinnett Center

As the first quarter of 2007 draws to a close, Gwinnett Center looks forward to continued success for the rest of the year.  We also find ourselves looking a little further into the future. The Gwinnett Center recently commissioned the creation of our master plan that calls for vast expansions throughout our campus. 

The proposed master plan calls for The Performing Arts Center's seating capacity to be increased to 1,200 seats from the current seating of 706. The Convention Center”s exhibit hall space will be increased by 75,000 square feet, bringing the total space to 125,000 square feet. This expansion will connect the current Convention Center to the Arena.

Another exciting project is the addition of a 450-475 room full-service hotel just in front of the Convention Center.  In conjunction with the expansion of the campus, three new parking decks have also been incorporated into the plan.

Economics and community
The Gwinnett Center is without question a major icon in Gwinnett, both from an economic and a community service point of view. The Gwinnett Center”s success, in part, is attributable to being the right facility(s), at the right place, at the right time.

However, the more significant contributing factor is the vision of the county leadership and the stewardship of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau Board throughout the Center”s development over the past 15 years.

This master plan, as laid out, will allow Gwinnett Center to continue to provide the facilities needed to support tomorrow”s business requirements, as well as the ever-growing needs of our community-based organizations.

Adding a full-service hotel
Having a high quality/high-end service headquarters hotel connected to Gwinnett Center in conjunction with the increase in exhibition and meeting space will afford us opportunities to market our venue to larger convention and trade shows – directly affecting the impact on the local economy. Additionally, it will allow our existing clients to grow their events as their needs expand for the future.

Project timetable
There is no specific timeline to have all of the master plan elements in place.

There is, however, a desire to move the project forward at a pace that will meet the future demands as they occur. Work is currently underway to better determine exactly what those demands are and what an appropriate timeline schedule should be.

Having said that, we feel it is quite possible that the master plan could be implemented in phases over the next three to five years.

Funding the project
If the project moves forward, it will most likely take on some form of public-private financing. The exact relationship and equity position between the public and private sectors will be determined by what each side brings to the table. There are numerous examples of successful projects like this using a public-private concept.

Once we have done all of our homework and when/if it becomes a reality, the actual project development will be the most exciting part. I am not worried about the ultimate success of the ongoing operation once it is complete. If that were in question, we would not do it.

We look forward to Gwinnett Center growing along with the business and community needs of Gwinnett County.