Mark Reece of Atlanta-based Rabun Rasche Rector & Reece Architects told those gathered for the grand opening he was proud of the work done by Hardin Construction Co. to complete his vision of the 35,000-square-foot, $11.6 million building.
“This facility exceeded what I was hoping it would be,” he said.
Bill Pinto, president of Atlanta-based Hardin Construction Co., noted his company paid 25 percent — about $3 million — of the construction budget to Douglas County firms. He said the center would be used as an example of Hardin’s finest work in future work bids.
“As we move on to another project in another city, we’ll have your project front and center,” Pinto said.
Hardin’s numerous public assembly projects have included the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Marietta and the Mall of Georgia in Buford, as well as projects in locations from Philadelphia to Puerto Rico.
The center’s exclusive caterer, Carole Parks Catering of Atlanta, provided a variety of food choices in the 7,600-square-foot ballroom Friday night.
Mayor Harvey Persons told the crowd the city in decades past had come close to securing a major hotel chain as an anchor for a conference center but was unsuccessful. It then bought a former office building, renovated it and opened a 10,000-square-foot conference center there in 2001.
However, its size only allowed operators to host one group at a time, and the city broke ground on the new conference center and adjoining 300-space parking garage in September 2011 — funded with a portion of the city’s hotel-motel tax.
Persons noted Hardin Construction Co. finished the facility on time, on budget and with no complaints about traffic or congestion in the area.
“As you look around tonight, I think you can see Rabun and Hardin have given you an excellent finished product,” he said.