Convention center at Branson Landing to attract meeting-goers
Branson, in southwest Missouri, will soon be moving toward the top meeting planners' lists as a first-class convention destination with the city's recent approval for Branson Landing, an enormous new downtown lakefront development. The mixed-use complex will feature a multi-purpose convention center with adjoining hotel and an 80-acre retail shopping and restaurant district – all situated on Branson's scenic Lake Taneycomo.
The retail component will open in spring 2005, the convention center and hotel in fall 2005.
The $300-million project, which is being undertaken by HCW Development Company and the City of Branson, will be situated between U.S. 65 and the lake, adjacent to Branson's historic downtown district, and less than a mile from Branson's immensely popular tourist area. Branson Landing will be easily accessible from U.S. 65.
The planned Branson Regional Convention Center is a 220,000-square-foot facility with 60,000 square feet of leasable exhibition space, 20,000 square feet for ballrooms/banquet rooms, and 15,000 square feet of meeting space on two floors. The balance of the total area is allotted to pre-function use, a business center, lobbies, and function services such as catering and laundry.
The Great Hall exhibit center will be suitable for virtually any type of large-scale gathering, from trade shows to association meetings, concerts, and banquets thanks to modular elements that will allow the space to be incrementally downsized.
The Great Hall's features include:
• A 35-foot-high ceiling, five feet higher than industry standard;
• Overhead electrical outlet boxes on a 90-foot grid;
• Floor-boxed utilities, including fiber optics, on a 30-foot grid;
• Public address system and mobile stage;
• Restrooms that can be reconfigured for each event's male/female occupant ratios;
• Ten loading dock spaces;
• Drive-on accessibility to the exhibit floor.
Up to 2,500 people will fit into the facility's plenary hall, which is divisible into three rooms accommodating 800 people each.
A 300-room tower hotel, indoor/outdoor restaurant, and a café will be onsite, all offering pastoral views of Lake Taneycomo.
"Our convention center will provide meeting and conference planners an exciting, meetings-friendly venue in a destination that will be popular with both meeting attendees and their families. The destination alone will serve as a reason to attend a gathering," said Rick Huffman, principal for HCW, the site's developer.
"For Branson, the convention center opens up an entirely new market. Annual spending on meetings and conventions is over $40 billion. This meeting center is the logical next step to extend Branson's existing tourist appeal to the convention trade," Huffman said.
Owned property surrounding the convention center site is available for future development as Branson's business-travel trade grows, and the facility has been designed with expansion in mind. The architecture will accommodate the addition of 200,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The 1.5-mile-long waterfront entertainment complex will feature themed areas where shoppers can stroll through a variety of surroundings that will each have the feel of an intimate, unique village. A winding walkway will guide visitors along the Lake Taneycomo waterfront and through intimate settings where the architecture, décor, and music will give each setting its own unique personality.
The Downtown Waterfront Development at Branson is a public/private venture between HCW Development Company and the City of Branson. HCW will manage all of the facilities under a 99-year lease agreement with the city.
To round out its world-class development and management team, HCW Development Company has awarded a development consulting and management contract to Urban Retail Properties Co., the nation's leading third-party management company. "Urban Retail has developed and managed the nation's most powerful mixed-use shopping destinations in cities such as Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Houston," said Rick Graf, Development Director for HCW, "and we wanted to bring their unmatched expertise in developing unique retail environments to Branson Landing."
HCW has invested more than $200 million in Branson-area development during the past 10 years, including Grandvista's The Woods Resort, the Fall Creek Resort, the Branson Yacht Club, and the Vista Plaza shopping center.
The Branson resort area attracts an average of 8.2 million visitors annually, ranking it 16th among all overnight leisure destinations in the United States.