Brenau’s Downtown Center, formerly the Georgia Mountains Center, is keeping with the tradition of the building’s prior use and opening its new facilities to the public.
“We’ve had a lot of events here,” said Vicki Wineland, Brenau’s assistant director of event services. “We’ve had a few weddings, we’ve had a few concerts, we’ve had some dance recitals. Coming up this Wednesday is the Georgia Alternative Fuel Road Show and they are touring Northeast Georgia. On Friday we have the Children’s Center for Hope and Healing. Every Sunday we have a church group that comes in and they rent the entire facility and there’s probably 300 people for that every Sunday. The Make-a-Wish Foundation is going to be here. The Northeast Georgia Health system uses us for some of their conferences.”
The multipurpose building is home to many events, but its main purpose is education.
“We do offer it to rent to the public; however, the focus of the college is on the students,” she said. “So first, the faculty gets to choose what they need. Then if there’s anything left, I can rent.”
The Downtown Center on the lower level currently holds clinical lab classrooms, a computer lab, several research rooms and a couple of thesis group rooms that are all dedicated to the students, with more construction on the upper level taking place this summer.
Brenau Vice President of Communications & Publications David Morrison said the focus of the building will be on Brenau’s future health science programs.
“Long term, what we’re going to be building this summer is a human anatomy lab. I think they’re planning to start construction on that in July or August. It’ll be in the upper level above the physical therapy building.”
The human anatomy lab will take over the upper level of the former arena that was the primary event space of the Georgia Mountains Center. For events, the building has meeting rooms and the theater on the other end of the building, closest to the downton square, facing Spring and Main streets.
“Even without the arena, we still have three large meeting rooms, a board room, a theater, two large lobbies that we can use,” Wineland said. “It’s been renovated into kind of an art gallery, so we’ll rent that room for events. They call it the Manhattan Gallery.”
Renting rooms in the building costs from $100 to $675 per day, plus staff and equipment. The Downtown Center is embracing all opportunities, with about a “50-50” use between education and public rentals, she said.
“We’re extremely happy with the progress. It’s working out very well. The city’s behind the project enthusiastically,” Morrison said. “It’s turned out to be everything we’d hoped for.”