If you’ve been wondering about something in your community, Ask The Times is your place to get answers. The following question was submitted by a reader and answered through the efforts of our news staff.
With the loss of the Georgia Mountains Center to Brenau University, are there any plans for Gainesville to build a convention center in the future? It seems like a community this size should offer something in the way of a facility/arena in which to offer big-name concerts and conferences.
The short answer is no.
But it’s something city officials have said they wanted, and they even paid consultants to look into the possibility.
The Georgia Mountains Center was leased to Brenau in 2012 after lagging revenue and complaints the center couldn’t pull in big-name acts.
City officials have long wished for a hotel and large convention center on the lot at the end of the pedestrian bridge, opposite the Administration Building and Hall County Courthouse.
Key Advisors Inc. and the Bleakly Advisory Group in a presentation in September advised there is little demand for a large convention center drawing national trade shows and events. Accessibility to Gainesville is limited, with just one main artery, Interstate 985, and a market that is already overbuilt, the consultants said.
They instead found Gainesville could benefit from a smaller center with a hotel, meeting space between 11,000 and 15,000 square feet and a restaurant, all under one roof.
It was estimated that would cost about $28.4 million, with 25 percent paid through public funding and 75 percent paid by a private developer.
Since that presentation, though, no action has been taken to move forward with a small convention center.
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