The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $2.59 million contract to design the first of a series of improvements and expansion of the Infinite Energy Center that will transform it into a "come early and stay late" destination.
The architectural firm of Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates Inc. will design renovation and expansion plans for the Infinite Energy Center Forum, the performing arts theater, the Grand Ballroom and a new Forum entry building.
The new design will renovate the Convention Hall, Grand Ballroom and meeting spaces at the Forum, integrating them with a planned full-service Marriott Hotel at the site. The new Forum entry building will serve as a grand entrance and offer special event and meeting spaces. The renovations include doubling the size of the Exhibit Hall by at least 60,000 additional square feet of new meeting space to accommodate larger bookings, including several successful shows that had outgrown the facility.
The improvements at the Infinite Energy Center will help turn Sugarloaf Parkway at Satellite Road into a hub of cultural, entertainment and retail activity for the county, said District 1 Commissioner Jace Brooks.
"With the additional meeting space, the Forum will be able to compete for up to 70 percent of the meetings market, which will help surrounding businesses," he said. "We're hoping that this will cause a ripple effect in the private sector."
District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard said renovations to the Theater and the Grand Ballroom will make the Infinite Energy Center a popular place for cultural events.
"This will give Gwinnett a strong quality-of-life element that will help make the County more attractive for long-term and new residents alike," she said. "It's one more thing that will draw us all together as a community to share experiences and learn new things."
The project calls for more space for the exhibit hall, new outdoor gathering spaces, more parking, and a downtown entertainment district. North American Properties is the developer for Revel, the walkable entertainment district that will have eateries and shops where people can relax before or after events.