Sandy Springs could one day be home to a 1,000-seat performing arts center, if it follows the advice of a study conducted as part of city center plans.
It would be the “biggest project we’ve ever undertaken,” Mayor Rusty Paul said at a recent Rotary Club of Sandy Springs meeting.
The mayor said he was gratified by a public outpouring of support he has received following the release of the study commissioned by the Sandy Springs City Council. That study, by Johnson Consultants, urged the city to look at a 750-seat to 1,000-seat performing arts facility.
Charlie Johnson, with Johnson Consulting, urged Sandy Springs officials at a recent workshop to explore an option close to 1,000 seats in order to give the center room to grow along with the community. Johnson, speaking on a speaker phone, described Sandy Springs as having a growing, highly-educated population with a high median income, and said the community would support an intimate performing arts center.
“Sandy Springs fits in that model very nicely,” Johnson said.
Johnson told the council that by its fifth year a performing arts center could bring in 219,900 to 353,200 attendees a year, depending on the type of facility the city built. It would also have the potential to bring in revenues as high as $5.4 million, with a net income of $400,000.
At the Rotary event, Paul said the size that Johnson Consulting is recommending is the “sweet spot” where revenue and expenses could meet and break even, while also putting “us in a very competitive position.”
Paul said the council is toying with the idea of going to the business community to see if private capital can be raised for the project. “If this is something that the community really wants, then we believe the community will step up . . . and maybe help us pay for it.”
In the study, Johnson said a center could cost from about $22 million to about $32 million, depending on the kind of theater it included. Johnson suggested the center should also include a large lobby and 7,500 square feet of meeting space.
As part of the study, Johnson Consulting also interviewed representatives from performing arts facilities in the metro area, including the Buckhead Theatre and the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center.
Representatives from the Buckhead Theatre, a 790-seat venue, supported Sandy Springs building a performing arts center even though it would be a competitor, according to the study, which said that theater can’t accommodate all facility requests.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center said they regret not having a facility larger than its current 700 seats, and that Sandy Springs should build a facility it can grow into.
The study also cited organizations in the city such as Sandy Springs Tourism & Hospitality and Heritage Sandy Springs that told the consultants they can’t accommodate all the event requests they receive, and the Chamber of Commerce, which holds a number of events outside the city due to lack of space.
Johnson Consulting’s study can be found on the city’s website at www.sandyspringsga.org.