A rendering of the exterior of Duluth, Ga.’s, Infinite Energy Center after renovations. (Courtesy Infinite Energy Center)

Expansion plans include a makeover of existing venues and adding an entertainment district

Infinite Energy Center’s 118-acre Duluth, Ga. campus renovation, which includes renovations to the theater, an expansion of The Forum convention center, a new parking structure, a hotel, and a mixed use development, is currently underway.

Gwinnett County, which owns the land and venues, is financing the project. It will be located on property that previously contained 5,000 parking spaces. In addition to the convention center, Infinite Energy Center includes an arena, theater and the Hudgens Center for Arts & Learning. The convention center and theater renovations total approximately $200 million.

“We started planning this project about 12 years ago, when we began talking to hotel partners,” said Joseph Dennis, Infinite Energy Center’s general manager. “In 2015, we got serious about it and developed a master plan.”

The convention center expansion, which starts this November, will be done in phases. The first phase will increase convention space from 50,000 to 90,000 square feet; add four breakout rooms for a total of 18; and create a junior ballroom to supplement the current 22,000-square-foot ballroom. The interior also will be updated. Phase one is expected to be completed in late 2020 or early 2021. At that point, renovations on the existing facility will begin. The convention center will remain open throughout the project.

Atlanta-based architect firm Smallwood designed the convention center expansion and renovation.

The Infinite Energy Theater’s concourse also will undergo an overhaul.

“We anticipate the theater, ballroom and Forum renovations to take 18 months, although we haven’t totally mapped out the phases yet,” said Dennis. “We’re also gutting and doubling the size of our administrative offices.”

The campus project began 14 months ago with construction on two seven-story vertical parking decks. The first deck, which accommodates 2,550 vehicles, opened in mid September, while deck two, which has space for 800 vehicles, will open between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

North American Properties, headquartered in Cincinnati, was selected to create the mixed use development, called Revel.

“The company has an Alpharetta property, Avalon, that has been very successful,” said Dennis.

Estimated to cost between $300 and $500 million, the development includes retail spaces, a movie theater, chef-driven restaurants, a food hall and several residential units such as condos, apartments and single-family homes.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Concord Hospitality is heading the $80 million hotel project. The 342-room, 12-story Westin will include a ballroom and meeting space and be connected to the convention center and arena. Construction will start in mid-November and is expected to be completed in 18 months.

“This is something we’ve needed for years,” said Dennis. “We have many hotels within walking distance of us, but none that are full service or on our property.”

To accommodate the additional structures, three water retention ponds on 50 acres formerly used for parking will be relocated to a 750,000-cubic-foot underground storage facility. Once that is completed, the retention areas will be filled and graded for the development and hotel builds.

“To get people where they need to go, we’ve partnered with a shuttle company and are using trollies to move people around our campus,” said Dennis.