Columbia County Commission OKs $7 million bid to build exhibition hall

The Columbia County Commission approved a bid of more than $7 million Tuesday to build an exhibition hall in Gateway shopping center near Grovetown.

Augusta-based McKnight Construction Co. won the nearly $7.3 million project to build the multipurpose hall, which also will house a Family Y.

Construction is expected to start the first week of June and is scheduled to be completed early next year, said Matt Schlachter, the county’s construction and maintenance services director.

The Family Y signed a multimillion dollar deal with the county last year to rent about half of the 47,000-square-foot facility near the Grovetown Walmart.

Family Y executives have said the 10-year lease allows them time to establish a presence in the area while planning the construction of their own facility on an adjacent piece of land the organization already owns.

County officials initially planned to open the exhibition hall last December, but construction bids came in over budget. To lower the costs, the scope of the project was scaled back.

The commission also allocated $60,000 for gates and $150,000 for video screens for the Evans Towne Center Park. The money will come from a 1-percent sales tax discretionary fund.

Officials said last week that the gates are needed to better secure the park and that the video screens will be used to publicize sponsors of park events.

“I feel like this is necessary to make it a first-class entertainment venue,” commission Chairman Ron Cross said during a May 8 committee meeting.

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