The project also would include a 300-room hotel and amenities that would be built later, with the entire development expected to wrap up by late 2024, said Bill Donohue, executive director of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority.
The authority is the agency that oversees the state-owned property, which is leased to a private operator, Lake Lanier Islands Management LLC.
The conference center, funded by the state, and the hotel, funded by the private company, “will open together,” Donohue said.
The conference center would be 130,000-square-feet, including 45,000-square-feet in meeting space. The hotel would have “multiple restaurants, two swimming pools, spa and boat dock for lake access,” Donohue said.
Key details, such as financing and branding the hotel, are still being worked out, with some of that business handled Wednesday, May 18.
The authority voted to accept the state’s latest $10 million allocation, which was approved in the 2022 General Assembly, for a total $62 million from Georgia.
Further state funding is to be determined, as $21 million had been sought this year from the legislature. More talks will be held before next year’s budget, Donohue said.
The private company “is solidifying on their end their development partner, their financing,” Donohue said. “They’re getting closer to making an announcement on a brand … and a lender, and there are very positive discussions (happening).”
Also pending before work can start is site plan approval by the Army Corps of Engineers, he said.
“Hopefully, we can get approval in 60 days,” Donohue said.
The overall project had been estimated to cost $155 million, but at least the conference center portion is expected to go higher, Donohue said.
“All indications we see are things are costing more now than they did a year ago,” he said.
The entire project was announced in August 2020 to be built on a site once occupied by PineIsle, a 254-room hotel that was torn down in April 2008. The lot has remained vacant since then.
The only hotel property on the 1,100-acre resort is Legacy Lodge & Conference Center.