$3.2M Gateway Center to open soon

Published 12:42 am Friday, July 13, 2007

VIDALIA — The new Vidalia Gateway Center — located along the riverwalk — is one step closer to its opening.

If all goes well, the center will receive an occupancy certificate from the state fire marshal Tuesday, Riverfront Director H.L. Irvin said.

Once the center receives the go-ahead from the fire marshal, officials can begin to move their offices and furnish the building, Irvin said.

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The center has a conference booked for Aug. 7-9, and will probably officially open a week before that, he said.

The center will not have a grand opening until both phases are completed, Convention Center Manager Jenny Branton said.

The center is already booking advance events, Branton said.

“We have things scheduled for every month,” she said. “It’s really starting to pick up.”

The 26,000 square-foot facility will also be home to the Jim Bowie Museum, the Louisiana Welcome Center and the Vidalia Chamber of Commerce.

The center was built at a cost of $3.2 million.

Construction of a second phase of the center is projected to be completed by March.

The second phase will be 11,000 square feet, and will house a Red Cross evacuation shelter.

The second phase, which will have showers, air-conditing and stoves along with sleeping space, will cost $1.7 million to build.

Both phases of the project are offset by grants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.