By Joel Hall
The City of Morrow is continuing to forge ahead with its plans to complete the Morrow Conference Center by the end of October.
This week, officials appointed Stephen C. Sullivan, of Atlanta, to be director of the new and improved events facility.
Sullivan was named director during the city's regularly scheduled business meeting on Tuesday. With an extensive background in country club and restaurant management, as well as event planning, Sullivan said he hopes to make the center an intimate conference center option between College Park and Peachtree City.
"It fills a very big hole that you have here by opening a conference center that can be available to the city, but also to the surrounding county," he said. "You have the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, but it's huge. It's almost too big and too sterile. You have the Aberdeen [Woods Conference Center] in Peachtree City. It's huge and it is geared specifically for the corporate side. We want to do both corporate and social [events].
"If you go to the Aberdeen, the price points are going to be like if you went to Atlanta," Sullivan said. "[The Morrow Conference Center] will be more inviting and warm. We are going to do this with high quality and mid-range pricing, and that's what people want."
According to Sullivan's résumé, he has managed the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville, the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, as well as the Buckhead Club in Atlanta.
While managing the Buckhead Club, between 1991 and 1998, Sullivan helped raise the club's average annual sales from $400,000 to $1.65 million, he said.
John Lampl, economic development director for the City of Morrow, said he believes Sullivan will be able to help the city achieve "the quality and branding" it wants for the conference center.
"We're definitely placing ourselves out there to attract additional professionals, additional tourism, and additional customers to the Southlake area," he said. "We want everything to tie together. [Sullivan is] a fantastic guy and brings a lot to the table. He'll be responsible for opening, managing, event planning, staffing, the whole nine yards. It's a higher level of branding that you might not find at your average, small-town conference center, and that's what we want."
The Morrow Conference Center is currently being built in the space which was once the old Macy's Department Store (formerly Rich's Department Store). Sullivan said the facility will initially offer 28,000 square feet in meeting rooms, business center, and ballroom space.
He said it has the potential to offer 120,000 square feet of space, and hopes to eventually include a restaurant, an attached hotel, and, possibly, a theater area.
"I find it exciting, challenging, and I think that this is very doable," Sullivan said. "A lot of people don't know about Morrow, and this is another component to bring people here. Hopefully, this will become a place people get to know, enjoy, and come back [to]."