A 40,000-square-foot event center could open by March in South Hall, offering a 550-seat auditorium and performance theater, banquet rooms and conference space.
After two years of planning and researching, the Wayne family broke ground on The Venue at Friendship Springs, which will be at 7340 Friendship Springs Blvd. behind the Publix shopping center off Friendship and Spout Springs roads.
Just shy of 5 acres, the land is three miles from Interstate 85 and six miles from I-985; lots of rooftops in a 5-mile radius make it a prime spot.
Jon Wayne said the location is a gateway into Braselton and the time is right for development.
“It’s a real experience to bring this to the community,” said Wayne, who notes the process has to date included a two-year think tank experience and a lot of prayer on the road to seeing the multi-million-dollar project come to fruition.
“Our goal is to be ready March 1 — God-willing and the weather cooperating,” said Wayne. “That is our plan.”
The Venue is expected to attract a wide variety of users from a broad geographic area, including high school proms, band and chorus concerts, weddings and parties, social and fundraising activities, trade shows and car and boat shows.
Cross Pointe Mill Creek will also be a part of The Venue as the church congregation, which currently meets at Mill Creek High School, is expanding and growing. The church made the announcement in mid-September of the planned spring relocation to its new home as the church marked its first anniversary.
The Venue will provide space for performances by Jon Wayne’s wife’s students at Heather Wayne’s Performing Arts Dance Academy, as well as other studios. It will also be marketed to a broad range of groups.
Wayne said he considers the partnership a good match, and Heather Wayne’s Performing Arts Dance Academy has for years partnered with other churches in the use of studio space.
The building will feature stone with stucco and brick, and it will have 220 parking spaces with an alcove drive-thru to drop off passengers.
The stage is ramped so productions can have audience interaction and to provide handicapped accessibility. The floor will have removable seats so the space is multi-functional — auditorium-style seating for performances of all types, shows or screenings and even graduations, or empty to allow for trade fairs, car shows and other large gatherings. The space could also have some tables and chairs with an open dance floor for parties and charitable events.
A huge production room and two stage rooms have loading dock access, which will make The Venue more accessible to larger productions, as well as smaller performances. The performance space is 42 feet by 35 feet, and a pulley system allows expanded flexibility. A 70-foot set area allows large sets to easily be moved onto and off the stage. There is even a green room.
The 3,500-square-foot banquet area can be divided into three sizes depending on the needs, and a caterer’s kitchen is also available.
Off the banquet room will be a patio offering outdoor seating.
The design includes stained concrete floors and a neutral color palette. The front lobby’s glass entrance will have LED-colored lights that can set the mood for an event.
The flexibility of The Venue is anticipated to be a major selling point for event planners and other users, according to Wayne.
For weddings, small rooms that serve as Sunday school rooms will become suites for the bridal party to get ready, and for corporate gatherings, the facility is large enough to handle 800 people and provide small spaces for breakout sessions. There is also a small conference room with amenities that could serve as an off-site interview space or meeting space for business and industry or civic groups.
A website for The Venue is under development, and Wayne said he is already welcoming calls related to events.
He already has some wedding and dance happenings penciled in. Soon a working calendar will be available to assist event planners in their efforts.
“This is a family project,” said Wayne, whose father, Mike, is actively involved in the project and brings years of knowledge of operation of the 2,400-slip Aqualand Marina to the table.
“We are really excited about it and feel it is needed in this area,” Wayne said.
He added, though, that they will need help with positions becoming available such as a booking agent.
“There are so many creative people out there,” he said.
For information about The Venue, call Jon Wayne at 770-316-1408.