The mammoth campus of the Georgia World Congress Center apparently wasn’t big enough to keep up with Atlanta’s convention growth.
So the state of Georgia decided it could be bigger—a lot bigger.
On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s Board of Governors were on hand for the groundbreaking of a $55 million expansion of the already hulking convention center, according to the GWCCA.
As is, the GWCCA is the country’s fourth-largest exhibition complex, behind others in Chicago, Orlando, and Las Vegas, respectively.
The project, the GWCC’s first major expansion in 16 years, is expected to turn 100,000 square feet of loading areas into exhibit space, linking the center’s Buildings B and C.
Once those two vast venues are connected, the GWCC will boast more than 1 million contiguous square feet of convention space—bringing the grand total to some 1.5 million square feet.
Additional upgrades will include, among other things, new speckled terrazzo flooring and fresh carpeting throughout, according to Discover Atlanta.
Funds for the expansion efforts—expected to include a connected hotel—come by way of the state government, which last year approved using between $200 and $400 million in bonds for the project, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Georgia’s preeminence on the national and international stage is the result of solid economic growth and increased tourism made possible by fixtures such as the GWCC,” said Deal at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to GWCCA.
The potential economic impact of the new exhibition space could reach $632 million, the center reported.
The expansion, led by Holder Construction Group, is anticipated to finish by the tail end of next year.
Elsewhere on the GWCC campus, a 1,000-plus-key hotel, funded by up to $350 million of those bonds, is slated to rise in the next few years.
The developments are just a few of the ongoing projects aiming to boost the area’s appeal—and capacity—for visitors.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium—the city’s largest special events venue—for example, recently debuted its finally functional blooming rooftop. Last month, stadium officials also showed off the almost-ready, park-meets-tailgating spot known as the Home Depot Backyard, which spawned from the ashes of the demolished Georgia Dome.