July 8

Parking deck construction is door to Infinite Energy Center's...


By: Curt Yeomans

Published: July 7, 2019


Parking deck construction is door to Infinite Energy Center's future growth

A typical person might not get excited about a pair of parking decks rising out of the ground, but officials at the Explore Gwinnett see them as a cause for celebration.

For several months, two parking decks have been under construction at what had for years been a vast, peanut-shaped parking lot at the Infinite Energy Center. They represent more than a new place for the center’s visitors to park, however.

They are the first step in a major overhaul of the Infinite Energy Center campus which, when completed, will include: a new hotel; new residential, dining, retail, office and entertainment spaces; and expanded convention and lobby areas at the Infinite Energy Forum and the Infinite Energy Theater.

“It’s funny because the parking deck is probably the least sexy part of any development, but it is actually the most important one, too,” said Lisa Anders, executive director of Explore Gwinnett.

The first of the two parking decks, which will have about 2,400 to 2,500 spaces, has seven levels and is located directly across from the Infinite Energy Forum — where the center’s ballroom and convention space is located — is expected to open in early September, according to Anders. Construction on the deck began in June 2018.

The second parking deck, which county records show will have about 880 parking spaces on six levels, is expected to be open by the end of the year. Construction on this deck began in April.

Other parts of the plans for overhauling the Infinite Energy Center campus are somewhat farther off. The first of the other components that is expected to get underway is the planned Westin Hotel, which will bridge the Infinite Energy Forum with the Infinite Energy Arena.

The hotel has been in the works for years and county commissioners approved a ground lease with Concord Sugarloaf LLC in 2015 to allow the hotel, then estimated to be a $70 million project, to be built.

Once it is built, it is expected to connect to the arena as well as the planned expansion wing of the convention space at the Infinite Energy Forum, allowing guests to access the arena and convention floor without stepping outside.

Anders said a groundbreaking for the long-planned hotel is currently penciled in for mid-November.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the Infinite Energy Forum, which will include a new entrance as well as an expanded lobby for the adjoining Infinite Energy Theater, is still in the design and development phase.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on there right now,” Anders said.

Other parts of the overhaul, including the convention center expansion as well as North American Properties mixed-use Revel development are farther off.

But part of that — at least on Revel’s end — is because of the parking decks. Revel will include residences, retail, restaurants, a movie theater and office spaces, and it’s planned to be built on what is currently a sea of parking lots at the center.

Some of the retail spaces from Revel are also expected to wrap around the front of the parking decks.

Hence why the parking decks had to be built first.

“It’s kind of like a chess game,” Anders said. “You can’t start on a lot of the other construction until we ensure that we have parking for everything that’s going on.”

Gwinnett residents can track progress on the construction taking place at the Infinite Energy Center by visiting www.experiencetheenergy.com, which was set up to provide updates to the public.