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Alpharetta mulls convention center: Seeks proposals, information


March 20, 2013
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The city of Alpharetta wants to get into the conference and convention business.

At their March 18 meeting, the City Council approved gathering more information from possible developers about a convention center.

The City Council commissioned a study by PKF Consulting USA in May 2012 to determine whether it would make financial sense to open either a performing arts center or a convention center. While the consultants quickly shot down hopes of performing arts center – there are plenty of alternatives throughout the metro region – a convention center might be possible.

As long as any convention center is attached to a 300-room hotel, the consultants say not only is the project viable, it could have a great impact in the local economy.

PKF are recommending a 32,000-square-foot meeting space, including a 350-seat auditorium and 12,000-square-foot ballroom. They also recommend a 20,000-square-foot exhibit space. In total, there would be 77,000 square feet of space.

While the convention center would be owned at least in part by the city, the hotel would be a wholly private enterprise.

The total project cost is estimated at approximately $25.4 million. Almost $23.5 million in visitor spending will occur, generating 545 jobs with more than $15.7 million in earnings and over $51.3 million in total economic output annually. Direct benefits from hotel room taxes, sales taxes and property taxes total $797,000 annually. The construction of the facility will generate just under 1,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, resulting in nearly $37.1 million in earnings and almost $112 million in economic benefits.

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Those are some big numbers for Alpharetta and the surrounding North Fulton region.

The city is seeking proposals – an “indication of interest” – from interested developers about what may be possible.

Mayor David Belle Isle said the council approved proposals for a conference center in the city, but is not moving forward with any concrete plans yet.

“It is the process of entering into a discussion,” said Belle Isle. “This is a commitment to look and ask questions and learn more.”

ALSO AT THE MEETING:

**The first reading was made for a change to the city’s alcohol ordinance to allow breweries in the city.

**The Cromen Ferguson property on Rucker Road was approved in a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Michael Cross opposed.

** The first reading was made for strengthening the city’s laws on massage therapy businesses.

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