Gwinnett commissioners approve Infinite Energy Center expansion design contract

The Infinite Energy Center is shown in this aerial photograph from 2014. Gwinnett County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a $2.59 million design contract for the center’s expansion and renovation. (File Photo)

Gwinnett County commissioners signed off on a $2.59 million contract with an Atlanta-based architectural firm to design the expansion and renovation of the Infinite Energy Center in unincorporated Duluth on Tuesday.

The commissioners hired Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart and Associates Inc. to handle the design work on the center’s expansion. It is being paid for from funds collected through the 2017 special purpose local option sales tax program that voters approved in November 2016. The tax program included $67.3 million for the expansion.

The plans for the center include doubling the size of the exhibit hall in the Infinite Energy Forum by adding at least 60,000 square feet of space, a renovation of the forum’s grand ballroom and associated meeting spaces, the addition of a new grand entrance into the forum that will include event and meeting space and a renovation of the Infinite Energy Theater.

Gwinnett County Chief Financial Officer Maria Woods said the renovation of the ballroom and meeting space is being done so their design will match the look of the expansion area as well as a full-service Marriott hotel that will be built at the center. Officials have previously said the hotel will serve as a sort of bridge between the forum and the Infinite Energy Arena.

The expansion and renovation of the center will coincide with the redevelopment of its parking area. North American Properties is partnering with the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau — which oversees the center — to develop the mixed-use Revel project in what is currently the parking lots at the center.

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta. I eventually wandered away from home and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, Miss., where I first tried my hand at majoring in film for a couple of years. And then political sc