GWCC expansion, airport hotel among new Atlanta area meeting and event spaces

GWCC expansion, airport hotel among new Atlanta area meeting and event spaces

The upsurge in Atlanta’s meetings and conventions is being met with a host of new hotels and meeting venues that have recently come online or are in the development stages.

One of the biggest additions to the mix is a $55 million expansion of the Georgia World Congress Center. The project, now under construction, will add 100,000 square feet between Buildings B and C, creating one million square feet of contiguous exhibition space. It creates a total of about 1.1 million square feet of space under one roof.

“It really allows us to look at other conventions who maybe have been here in the past, but have stayed away because they have facilities out there that have that type of configuration for them,” said Mark Vaughan, executive vice president and chief sales officer for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In addition to the expansion, a new 1,010-room convention hotel is being built on part of the former Georgia Dome site. It will directly connected to the GWCC. Larger shows often want to house their attendees close to the convention site itself.

“It’s a total game-changer for us and for Atlanta,” said Joe Bocherer, chief commercial officer with the Georgia World Congress Center. “When you get into some of these larger shows, they’re looking for hotels attached and connected to the convention center. It helps reduce their expenses on transportation and just pure logistics.”

Construction was scheduled to start to start shortly after next year’s Super Bowl on a mixed-use development at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It will include 50,000 square foot of office space along with a 500-key Intercontinental Hotel which will have 40,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will be the first directly connected to the airport itself by a covered walkway.

“Around the country there’s a trend to have airport connected hotels – particularly in major markets,” said Barry McCabe, senior vice president and legal counsel for Majestic Realty. Airport-connected hotels tend to outperform similar hotels that lack a direct physical connection to an airport, he added. The hotel is projected to be open by mid-2022.

Hotels and meeting facilities are also slated for development throughout the city. Popular West Midtown is getting its first hotel in the form of a Marriott-branded boutique hotel. It’s planned as part of the “The Interlock,” a $140 million development on a nearly 9-acre industrial site at Howell Mill Road and 14th street. S.J. Collins Enterprises, the master developer for The Interlock, is partnering with Three P Partners on the hotel.

The hotel will offer 125-150 guest rooms, food and beverage offerings, meeting space and a rooftop deck. Construction for the Interlock Development will begin in late 2018 or early 2019, with the hotel expected to open in 2020, according to Stephen Polhill, principal with Three P Partners.

Portman Holdings is developing an intown boutique hotel on a 1.5-acre site on the Eastside Trail. Located at the southwest corner of Irwin Street and the Beltline in Old Fourth Ward, groundbreaking is expected in the second quarter of 2019 with construction taking about 18 months.

The hotel is expected to have less than 200 rooms. It will provide about 10,000 square feet of meeting space, according to Charles Pinkham III, senior vice president, development, with Portman Holdings.

“We want everyone who is using the Beltline during the day, exercising and walking and enjoying the area, to feel like they can come in right off the Beltline and sit down and have a drink or a coffee or a sandwich,” said Pinkham.

The Portman boutique hotel will also feature multiple food and beverage offerings such as a restaurant, bar and a café, including a rooftop bar or restaurant offering views of the city.

Georgia State University is developing a meeting venue new to downtown with its Convocation Center. This $79.2 million, 200,000-square-foot event center at Fulton Street and Capitol Avenue is now in the planning stages.

In May, Midtown’s historic Fox Theatre opened its own private venue for patrons, the Marquee Club. This facility allows people onto the roof of the venue for the first time in 50 years. The 4,000-square-foot rooftop runs over the theater’s arcade and connects to the Egyptian Ballroom, offering views of Peachtree Street and the Fox’s famous marquee.

“Back in 2013 our customers really started showing some interest in wanting to have an elevated VIP experience at the Fox,” said Nancy Lutz, director of special events, Affairs at the Fox.

The venue has proven particularly popular with Fox patrons attending performances. It can also be rented out by groups on those evenings when there are no performances at the Fox.

As the Central Perimeter area has become a major jobs center, it has also increased the demand for meeting space.

City Springs, the new home to Sandy Springs government, includes a performing arts and conference enter that offers a variety of both indoor and outdoor event options. The conference center has five individual meeting rooms as well as a ballroom-style meeting space that adjoins an outdoor terrace, according to David Daly, City Springs director of programming.

The performing arts center includes the 1,070-seat Byers Theatre. The theatre’s 7,000-square-foot lobby can also accommodate banquets and receptions. There’s also a 300-seat Studio Theatre, which is used for a wide variety of smaller events including receptions and other functions.

The outdoor City Green, a 4-acre park which features outdoor seating, fountains and a splash pad, can also be used for functions.

The Alpharetta Conference Center at The Hotel at Avalon opened Jan. 16 as part of the upscale Avalon development. It offers 44,000 square feet of flexible event space. The facility includes 10,000 dedicated square feet of exhibit space, a 12,500-square-foot exhibit hall, a 10,000-square-foot executive ballroom, six salons, six meeting rooms, an executive board room, a reception area, pre-function space and outdoor venues. The development also includes the 330-room Hotel at Avalon.

The facility can accommodate groups ranging in size from 10 to 1500, according to Director of Group Sales and Events Vanita Vaswani.

Sefira Capital and Mayfair Street Partners are developing a mixed-use project on Webb Bridge Road in Alpharetta, which will include the Phase Family Center. This family and daycare center will be the first component to come out of the ground. The development is projected to include a multipurpose 700-seat auditorium. There are also plans to develop a hotel, two medical office buildings and a restaurant on the property.

The strong growth in the area including the development of Avalon was a key factor in driving the Sefira-Mayfair project.

“It all started with the evolution of Alpharetta, with the growth there with being very close to Avalon and having the right relationshipwith this tenant to build their new facility,” said Miajel Attias, the founder and managing partner of Sefira Capital.

A full-service Hilton hotel is planned as part of the $400 million Windward Park mixed-use development. The new hotel is being built by Franklin, Tenn.-based Chartwell Hospitality. The 249-room project is planned on a 5-acre site near the intersection of Windward and North Point parkways. Plans call for about 6,500 square feet of meeting space, including a large ballroom.

Smaller spaces such as Atlanta Tech Park in Peachtree Corners are also opening up. The co-working space and business accelerator fully opened in January. Along with membership-based office space it has six conference and two board rooms along with an auditorium seating 115. The space can be rented by both members and nonmembers. The facility can accommodate a range of group sizes from 400 to 600 people, according to Emily Pitman, program coordinator.