Newnan Centre construction back moving forward
by John A. Winters
Parks Avery is ready to get his hair back.
One could attribute that stress to dealing with a piece of property off Lower Fayetteville Road that, hopefully, will open early this summer. If all goes according to plan, it will become Newnan's premier multi-use meeting place for everything from weddings to health fairs to employee training to business receptions.
The Newnan Centre almost never was, squeaking by in a split vote from the Newnan City Council.
Over the past few years, Avery and his fellow Newnan Convention Center Authority members started making plans and watched ground break in August of 2011. But in the early months of 2012, the contractor ended up having cash flow problems. The planned opening in April of 2012 started getting pushed.
Within another couple of months, contractor D.Dean and Associates was fired and worked stopped. Then started negotiations with the insurance company that bonded D.Dean to recoup funds and get a new contractor. Then Headley Construction out of Newnan was named the new contractor. And then all kinds of latent defects from the previous contractor were found. And then the rain came... and came.
"I've been working on this for four or five years," Avery said. "I used to have hair."
"But this is going to be a proud moment for Newnan," he added. "When we finally put up that plaque with all the names of the government and committee members who helped see this through, then I am going to get the keys and breathe a huge sigh of relief."
The meeting center, located on Lower Fayetteville Road next to the Coweta County School System's Centre for Performing and Visual Arts, is now slated to open in mid-May, more than a year than originally planned.
But Avery said the wait will be worth it.
"Our vision is to see how much fun we can have with this facility," said Avery, who chairs the facility's oversight committee. "The community desperately needs this type of space... there is nothing around here like it."
"We will have state-of-the-art electronic systems," he added. "We will be the most wired facility in the state of Georgia."
Just how the complex will be used remains to be seen, in the sense that no one really knows other than the obvious receptions and such.
"The reason for this facility is to promote business, tourism and the community for the city," the chairman said. "But what will really be interesting is to see what types of uses we will see."
Avery envisions weddings and receptions, charity fundraisers, corporate training, car shows, art festivals with the performing arts center and related functions.
"For corporate training, it's all plug-and-play," Avery said. "They can hook up online and be in real time with anyone in the world. Our internet speeds will be through the roof. It's a perfect place for corporations to sign up employees for health benefits."
Overall, the complex includes a main building, a tiered outside amphitheater that can seat about 1,200, and a 1,000-square-foot pavilion. Covered walkways lead from the main building to the pavilion, which is heated but not air-conditioned, and also to the Centre.
The main building houses a business center and boardroom, which could be used as a bridal room for weddings. It also will have a full kitchen, various sized tables, different seating arrangements, risers for stages and a dance floor. The main room can be divided into four different sizes to accommodate various functions.
Overall, the complex is expected to cost about $5.2 million.
And already Avery said the biggest concern is that it's not big enough.
"We had to work with the funding we had," he said. "But everyone is pretty much in agreement we eventually will need to grow."
Looking far into the future, the authority envisions a top-line hotel and adding space to the existing facility that would include enclosed thoroughfares between the hotel and complex.
"If we want to start bringing in conferences, we are going to have to have a hotel on-site," Avery said.
"But for now, we believe local corporations, social events and charitable groups are going to be our big movers," he said, adding "at least for now."
"We've already started booking, but before we officially start we want to invite the public to see what we have and help us envision how to use this beautiful space."