Augusta Convention Center to be complete in January; 12 events planned

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The expansion of the downtown Augusta convention center is on track to be completed in January, the same month as the first scheduled event.

At the riverfront exhibit hall on Reynolds Street, kitchen equipment is being installed, the concrete has been poured for the exhibition hall and the entrance into the parking deck, the Harrison building, is being completed, said Forrest White, a senior associate for Heery International Inc., the company hired as program manager for the Capital Improvements Program in Augusta-Richmond County.

“We can start putting our ceiling and drywall in. They’re doing painting. We’re on schedule,” White said.

The 38,000-square-foot convention center costs $29.5 million and is being financed by $20 million in special purpose local option sales tax funding approved by voters in 2005.

A westbound lane of Reynolds Street that has been closed during construction will reopen in late September, said Jacques Ware, a project manager for Dukes Edwards & Dukes, a subconsultant for Heery International. The exterior signs, balcony railing and other finishes require lift equipment that needs to be positioned along the street, he said.

Ware said the lane can reopen after the convention center sign, which will read “Augusta Convention Center,” is placed and other overhead work on that side of the building is completed.

“Basically, I’m providing safety for the workers as they incorporate the remaining items on the facade of the building,” Ware said.

The first booking at the center, also called the Trade, Exhibit and Event Center, is for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police 2013 Winter Training Conference, from Jan. 27-30, said Katrina Selby, the director of marketing communications for the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The CVB has been told that the official opening date of the center is Jan. 1, so the staff is not worried about delays, Selby said.

“We have no concerns that it will not be ready to open Jan. 1,” Selby said. “My understanding is that substantial completion will actually be done in the fall, and then it’s just doing the punch list of things that need to be done for final opening in January.”

There are 12 signed contracts for the center. Eleven of the groups will arrive in 2013, and one is signed for September 2015, according to a release.

These events, excluding the Augusta Tattoo Festival because it is a consumer show, are expected to bring $7.2 million to Augusta in direct visitor spending.

“It is great to welcome new groups to Augusta, but is also great to welcome back groups that had grown too big to meet in Augusta,” Barry White, the president and CEO of the CVB, said in a news release.

Ten of the groups would not have been able to meet in Augusta without the flat, column-free space that will be offered at the center.

The 12 groups will bring an estimated 9,800 visitors to Augusta. Direct visitor spending is based on the amount of money that attendees spend during a conference and how many nights they spend in a hotel.

White said that he had been working with some of the groups for two years to schedule their events in the center. Five of the groups signed contracts at the end of June.

   Estimated direct
DateNameDelegatesvisitor spending
Jan. 27-30Georgia Association of250$227,430
 Chiefs of Police 2013 Winter  
 Training Conference  
March 20-24Mary Kay Career Conference2,000$131,404
April 1-3East Center Georgia Changes600$303,240
 EMS Conference  
April 1-5ESi WebEOC Conference300$586,264
May 29-31Georgia Society of250$141,512
 Association Executives  
June 13Augusta Tattoo FestivalN/AN/A
June 17-23Most Worshipful Prince Hall1,900$480,130
 Grand Lodge of Georgia  
 Annual Meeting  
July 15-18Georgia Sheriffs’ Association200$224,903
Sept. 20-24, 2013Georgia Association of Housing300$409,879.40
 and Redevelopment Authority  
 Annual Conference  
Sept. 27-29, 2013ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta3,500$4 million
Oct. 21-25, 2013Georgia Nurses Association150$151,620
Sept. 4-8, 2015American Holistic Veterinary350$586,264
 Medicine Association  

Source: Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Riverman1 08/05/12 - 06:41 am
About the TEE being on

About the TEE being on schedule, let's address that again. It was originally scheduled to open this PAST SPRING. Then the opening kept getting pushed back until it's now Jan of next year. That's almost a year. What happened? The weather has been good. Could it be because no events were scheduled the builders were told to slow down? How much more does it cost the county to extend the work out another year?

Heery International has a contract worth more than $7 million to oversee the city's SPLOST projects. I want them to answer why the TEE Center is almost a year behind schedule?

In addition, the NEXT major expenditure will be to purchase the furniture in Sept. Shouldn't the Marriott pay for the furniture since they are the only ones using the building? Where did it come from the county had to pay?

Riverman1 08/05/12 - 06:44 am
Corgimom asked, "So what are

Corgimom asked, "So what are the groups that are "coming back" because they had grown so large, that they couldn't meet in Augusta before the TEE center?"

Good question. What group has gotten larger? Or is this another typical BS statement from White and the TEE proponents?

Conservative Man
Conservative Man 08/05/12 - 09:43 am
No fan of the TEE Center

But at least something is booked. Maybe in 20 or 30 years we'll get our money back. By then Billy and Paul's heirs will be living off the money their daddy's took from us with the aid of a compliant and/or ignorant Mayor and commission.
Bear in mind my whole argument hasn't been that this wouldn't be good for Augusta if it was successful. My complaint all along has been the way the shady deals in cigar filled backrooms were handled.
This has been a classic case of "the wants of a few outweigh the needs of the many". The "big boys" were hell-bent on making this happen even if it meant lying, cheating and stealing to get it done.....
So to me there really is nothing here to celebrate, but rather to mourn, the fact that unscrupulous interests won out yet again.
A part of me wants Augusta to succeed, but for that to happen the TEE will have to succeed as well. But another part of me hopes it ends in a dismal failure and those responsible are held publicy accountable and run out of town on a rail in shame and humiliation, which is what they so richly deserve....

Insider Information
Insider Information 08/05/12 - 09:52 am
You reap what you sow

If you take countyman's spin on events, the TEE Center is the result of a free election, it's the mecca of downtown and it's the single thing that will rescue our economy, our nation and our world.

It's funny because the TEE Center wouldn't exist without some shady backroom dealing. If a mayor had pulled out his wallet and offered a commissioner his personal money for the commissioner to vote for the TEE Center, that would be an illegal bribe. But, if a mayor pulls out $38 million in tax dollars and uses that to change a commissioner's vote, that is perfectly OK.

Now, we reap what we sow. We had a corrupt process that deceived taxpayers on the true cost of the TEE Center and now we are left with an empty building and an empty calendar.

JRC2024 08/05/12 - 10:14 am
Seenit, are you getting a

Seenit, are you getting a tramp stamp on your calf or maybe across your back? Will it have GOB in it somewhere?

itsanotherday1 08/05/12 - 01:52 pm
"Itsanotherday1... Splost

"Itsanotherday1... Splost funds" So then, it is NOT a direct tax on just residents of ARC, but on everyone who spends money there. In other words, if someone in Aiken, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, etc. rarely spends money there, they don't really have much to gripe about?

Insider Information
Insider Information 08/05/12 - 05:18 pm

No truer words have been said on the issue.

Insider Information
Insider Information 08/05/12 - 07:07 pm
Did the Marriott at least buy

Did the Marriott at least buy us dinner first?

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