The opening of the Savannah Convention Center has been pushed back
The planned expansion of the Savannah Convention Center is eyeing a materials completion date of late May 2024. But that target is awaiting a site design solution for its east side, which has raised concern that the new space may not be ready for visitors who have already booked that month.
The Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority heard a presentation Wednesday at its November meeting from the expansion’s general contractor, Clark Construction, on an updated timeline for the expansion. Wednesday’s update came after the expansion’s end date had already been pushed back multiple times.
“We have commitments going forward in this area, so it’s concerning to say the least,” Joseph Marinelli, vice president of the authority and president of Visit Savannah, said in an interview.
Based on Clark Construction’s timeline, the expansion space could finish life safety inspections by the end of March. Life safety inspections are a key goal, said Mark Blackmon, vice president of Clark Construction, who made the presentation Wednesday.
These inspections will be the minimum required to host conferences and exhibitions, although completion of exterior site work will still be ongoing, according to Blackmon and the timeline for the presentation. However, there is still a need to work together on a project design for the eastern side of the expansion.
To address the design decision necessary to maintain the proposed timeline, there must be coordination with the architect, fire team and construction team to plan the steps that need to be completed to achieve those goals, Blackmon said. The leading architecture firm is TVS Design, which has designed convention centers around the world.
“We just need to get on the same page,” Blackmon said.
Read more:The Savannah Convention Center expansion almost paid for itself. What you need to know about finance.
Currently, there are five events booked at the new space for May 2024.
Steven Holl, interim general manager of the Savannah Convention Center, said that if the convention center loses customers in May, he expects a potential revenue loss of $551,000. If the delay extends into June, when there are currently three events scheduled for the expansion space, it would be an additional $250,000 loss, Hall said.
But more than just the numbers, there were commitments made to clients who planned their events and conferences for the centre. Many reserved customers cannot be booked at other locations due to volume or other events, according to authority board members during Wednesday’s meeting.
“From a reputational perspective, we want to deliver on the promises we make to our customers,” Marinelli said in an interview. “It can be frustrating when construction delays affect that.”
Evan Lassiter is the city and county government reporter for the Savannah Morning News. You can contact him at ELasseter@gannett.com.