Gov. Kemp OKs begin of Savannah Conference Heart development.

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DeAnn Komanecky

| Savannah Morning News

Governor Brian Kemp has given the go-ahead to begin construction on the Savannah State Convention Center extension.

Mark Smith, chairman of the convention center authority, said a construction contract with Clark Construction had also been approved. Work should start later this month.

The project has an expected cost of approximately $ 278 million. A doubling of the exhibition area to 200,000 square meters is planned for the expanded facility.

The facility will also add a 60-foot hangar door, new entrance, outdoor area and 40,000-square-foot ballroom, 15 meeting rooms, and a seven-story parking garage with 900 parking spaces. A hotel is planned to the west of the center and will be built with private funds. The center currently has a 25,000 square foot ballroom.

Smith said he was both “excited and relieved” to have the support of the state.

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The construction work is expected to be completed in 2023. When completed, the center will be number 72 on a nationwide list of the largest convention centers in the country. Savannah is currently at number 153.

The project is to create 600 jobs in construction and 26,000 jobs in tourism.

History of the convention center

The Savannah Convention Center began in 1993 as a joint venture between the City of Savannah / Chatham County and the Chamber of Commerce and opened in early 2000. According to representatives of the convention center, it has been administered by the Georgia World Congress Center since 2014.

The Georgia General Assembly approved $ 3 million in funding to plan the expansion in 2017 and began working with Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates of Atlanta and Hansen Architects of Savannah, the team that designed the original building .

In 2018, the congregation approved an additional $ 6.3 million to continue the engineering and construction process. The board accepted the schematic and development drafts, and Clark Construction was selected by the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission.

In 2020, the state issued $ 70 million in bonds. The governor’s proposed budget for 2021-2022 is $ 90 million for the project. The remaining $ 91 million is expected in the 2022-2023 budget. Georgia House approved the 2021 budget, and Smith expects it will soon receive full legislative approval.

DeAnn Komanecky reports on business, growth and development for the Savannah Morning News. She can be reached at dkomanecky@savannahnow.com and on Twitter @deannsk