City approves convention center expansion

City approves convention center expansion (Reporter: Amanda Brannon)

GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - The Greenville Convention Center is getting a makeover.

The city council unanimously voted Thursday night to expand the building.

In the last several years, cities like Raleigh and Wilmington have been capitalizing on conventions.

Now Greenville is trying to cash in on it as well by expanding their campus.

"Our conventioneers and some of the conferences that we could not attract in Greenville, North Carolina, although they wanted to come, we don't have the extensive break-out rooms that we need," John Van Coutren with Exhibit Hall Managers said.

The current facility is roughly 28,000 square feet and only seats 3,000 people.

The new convention center will be more 51,000 square feet. It will add an additional 10 break-out rooms, a large outdoor space for events and will have an upgraded curb appeal.

More importantly, the upgrades and expansion will benefit local businesses like the Latin bar and grill, Yerbabuena, located right across the street.

"It's really good because the more people that come in for the convention center for meetings or something. Uh, come in here across the street and that's really good because they are spending money," manager Arles Brand said.

"The convention center is an economic driver …Each day tripper spends $68. Every overnight guest spends $168. So, if you multiply that by how many thousands of people attend conferences, conventions and day shows, it's close to $24 million dollars in economic impact put into the community of Greenville," Coutren said.

The project will cost approximately $4.1 million dollars. It will be paid for through the 3 cents hotel/motel occupancy tax. No property tax money will be used.

A groundbreaking is expected in May 2014. Officials said construction will begin in June and should be completed by August 2015.

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