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City, Brenau negotiating Mountains Center lease
Gainesville, school say expanded college could revamp downtown, midtown
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Future use of the 30-year-old Georgia Mountains Center continues to be hashed out by attorneys representing Brenau University and the city of Gainesville.

Brenau University President Ed Schrader and Gainesville City Council have signaled an interest in using the city-owned convention center for part of the university's desired expansion into downtown Gainesville.

Attorneys from both parties are working on provisions of a lease that would allow Brenau to use the center for classroom space, while keeping it open to community groups that already use it.

Details of a potential price tag for the university to lease the center have not been released yet.

Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett signaled that "decision points" of a proposed lease could come out later this month.

"Right now, it is still in the hands of the attorneys," Padgett wrote in an email to The Times on Wednesday.

Last fall, city and university officials signed a memorandum of understanding that the university would conduct a feasibility study on how it could use the center.

Schrader has proposed the university lease the center for graduate-level classrooms and lab space.

"It would be a great location to expand our health care (education) programs," said Brenau spokesman David Morrison on Wednesday.

Schrader has also said civic and theater groups who currently use the center would still be welcomed there if the university took over.

Both university and city officials say an expanded Brenau could lead to a revitalized downtown and midtown with a possible addition of more students and privately run student housing options.

Any proposed lease will need approval from city council, and planned academic expansion would go before Brenau's Board of Trustees.


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