Alpharetta city consultant says convention center viable

Venue, hotel would generate millions for city’s economy



ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Alpharetta is dipping its toes into the world of large conventions seeking interest in a public-private partnership for a large convention center. So far, two viable proposals have been made by two developers.

The two proposals have come from North American Properties, the owners of the Avalon project, and one from Northwinds Land LLC.

“They were to present sites and what they could bring to the table for such a project,” said Assistant City Manager James Drinkard. “Those proposals will be reviewed and considered. Then council has to decide whether there is anything there that looks feasible.”

Avalon’s plans already call for a large hotel on its site on the northwest corner of Old Milton Parkway and Ga. 400. That is a prime location convenient to Ga. 400. The addition of a convention center to the $600 million mixed-use project would only increase the services offered at Avalon.

At its March 18 meeting, Alpharetta’s City Council approved gathering more information from a list of possible developers about a convention center.

The council had 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.

The consultants quickly shot down hopes of performing arts center. There are plenty of alternatives throughout the metro region, including one down the road in Roswell, PKF concluded. However, a convention center might be possible.

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

PKF recommended 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. According to PKF, the center would generate almost $23.5 million in annual visitor spending, 545 jobs with more than $15.7 million in earnings and $51.3 million in total economic output annually.

Direct benefits from hotel room taxes, sales taxes and property taxes would generate $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.

View desktop version