Details about convention center in Danville revealed

August 06, 2003|LIZ MAPLES and HERB BROCK

On a concrete floor in the empty Lowe's building on the corner of the bypass and Perryville Road, the first party was held Tuesday in what will be Danville's first convention center.

Renovation will begin in the next six weeks and reservations are already being accepted for the opening on Dec. 1 and thereafter. Besides the conference center, there is also space for an "8-plex" movie theater, a restaurant and a spa.

Local doctors Madar Bux, Anjum Bux, Arthur Rivard and Thomas Serey pooled their efforts to buy the building and pay for the $1 million renovation. They aren't expected to make a profit, but hope to break even in three years.

"Some people ask, 'What's the catch?'" Madar Bux said at the announcement party. "There's no catch."

He and his wife, Shakeela Bux, said that when they moved here 26 years ago everyone in the community was so accepting and nice.


"We felt like we owed something to the community," Shakeela Bux said.

The location of the convention center is perfect because it is close to area hotels, has plenty of parking and easy access to U.S. 150, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Don Vizi said.

Center expected to attract six major conventions a year

He expects that the center will attract six major conventions a year that could bring as much as $1.8 million to the community.

Vizi said today that the convention center will be well suited for gatherings of up to 300 people. He said the chamber already is starting to book or pencil in conventions and other events.

"We already have tentatively scheduled a teachers' convention of 300 people in October (2004), and also two large wedding receptions in the next few months," said Vizi. "Also, we have one group that wants to hold weekly meetings at the center and then hold large monthly meetings for about 300 people."

The chamber has been sending information about the center to organizations and government agencies in Kentucky and surrounding states.

Kay Berggren, executive director of the Danville-Boyle County Tourism and Convention office, said today that Boyle County has 481 overnight rooms, including motel rooms and bed and breakfast spaces, and there are another 451 overnight rooms in neighboring Mercer County.

"The ideal situation would be to have a convention center attached to a large hotel," Berggren said. "People attending conventions prefer to drive up to the hotel, park their cars, check into their rooms and not have to get into their cars until they leave. They want all the activity, from attending meetings to eating to going to banquets, to take place in one space."

However, Berggren said the situation for the Danville center "should be sufficient" for at least the time being.

"We have several hundred rooms in close proximity to center, including several at the Comfort Suites right next door," she said. "The optimum is to have a center-and-hotel complex, but I'm very pleased that we will have something to offer the many people and organizations who continually inquire about holding conventions and meetings here."

Spa will be in rear of the building

Aneela Bux, daughter of Madar and Shakeela Bux, and her partner, Jody Robinson, will operate a spa at the rear of the building. The business will cater to mothers, Robinson said, and will rival any Lexington spa. The women plan to offer hair styling, manicures, pedicures, massage and other treatments.

The cinema and restaurant have yet to be leased, but Vizi said the doctors have entered negotiations.

Nina Kirkland of Coldwell Banker, who is the broker who helped arrange the deal for the center and also is chamber chairperson, said today that "negotiations are currently in progress with two separate cinema groups." One of the major details the two groups are checking on is the cost of renovating the Lowe's space, she said.

In addition, "several" restaurants also are looking at the space, Kirkland said.

"There are pretty serious negotiations going on with three restaurants," she said. "One of the contracts (with the restaurants) is out of state, the other two are in state."

Restaurant could get alcohol license, but center could not

Dan Gahafer, deputy commission of the Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control Board, said today that if the restaurant that locates in the center meets the requirements of the limited alcohol beverage sales law in effect in Danville since earlier this year - that it has at least 100 seats and at least 70 percent of its income comes from food - it can sell alcohol.

However, Gahafer said that Danville's center would not qualify for a special convention center alcohol license, under which alcohol could be sold and served "throughout the premises." That license is only available in jurisdictions that are completely wet, he said.

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