Columbia County’s exhibition hall near Grovetown won’t open for a couple of months, but officials have taken the first step toward setting rental rates for the facility.
Members of the county commission’s Community and Emergency Services Committee on Tuesday approved the fees for the facility, now under construction at the Gateway Center on Horizon South Parkway at Interstate 20.
“We did a market analysis specifically to make sure we weren’t proposing anything out of line with the industry,” said Sandy Boner, the manager of Columbia County’s Rental Facilities and Venues Department.
At 21,500 square feet, the hall is much larger than the county’s current largest rental facility, Savannah Rapids Pavilion – but it will cost less to rent.
“Basically, these rates are cheaper than Savannah Rapids,” said Columbia County Leisure Services Division Director Barry Smith. “The décor at Savannah Rapids is a little more upscale. This is exhibit-hall space.”
The 7,500-square-foot top floor of Savannah Rapids rents for $2,250 a day, Smith said, while the 6,500-square-foot Hall B of the Gateway facility costs $1,100.
Renting the entire exhibit hall space will cost $2,400 for a full day, according to the fee schedule, with individual meeting rooms available for as little as $150 for a half-day.
Committee members approved spending an additional $405,000 for kitchen equipment, lighting and signs for the facility, but the kitchen won’t be outfitted in time for the hall’s June 10 opening.
The initial lack of a kitchen and the distance to hotels is taken into account in the fees, which could rise later, Smith said.
About a third of the $7.3 million facility will be leased to the Family Y for a fitness center. The county will manage the remainder as rental space.
“We’ve had a good bit of interest in the facility,” Smith said, including a recent inquiry from the Mustang Club of America about renting the facility for its national car show in 2014. The CSRA Mustang Club moved its annual show last year from Augusta to Evans Towne Center Park.
Operators of the annual Christmas Made in the South have said they plan to move to the exhibition hall from Augusta’s James Brown Arena in 2014.