Governor Brian Kemp was among those who attended an event in Emerson Thursday evening, where Rimrock Capital Management, LLC representative Jeff Bemis officially announced plans to construct a $40 million hotel adjacent to the Champions Center indoor pavilion.
“We’re thrilled by what’s possible,” said Bemis, whose California-based hedge fund owns LakePoint Sporting Community. “We’ve done the work to know it’s going to be successful, we’re excited about the things that it unlocks, and the new verticals that we don’t currently tap into. We think it will take this project to the next level.”
While the final product is expected to have 208 rooms, Bemis told The Daily Tribune News the flagship will remain under wraps for the time being.
“Our goal right now is to try and be open in late spring 2021,” he said.
LakePoint Sports CEO and President Mark O’Brien said he expects the development to bring about 100-150 jobs to the community.
“And then we will continue to pursue job creation through additional growth that the new hotel will provide us with its adjacency to the Champions Center,” he said, “which is a key strategic move for us, to leverage the two properties together.”
Bemis said LakePoint will continue to evaluate abatement and subsidy opportunities for hotel development as they present themselves.
“Certainly, it’s something for us to consider as part of any project,” he said. "Obviously, the public-private partnership we've forged with all the folks around has been critical ... we've been investing our capital alongside the road and bridge project to both support any overruns and then develop additional land alongside it so that we could aggressively find growth opportunities."
Gov. Kemp praised Rimrock for the company’s financial investment in the LakePoint Sports project, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year with an all-equity balance sheet.
“It’s not many times that you find investors that have a long-term commitment, so I have a great appreciation for that,” he said. “I think you’ll be rewarded for that in the long term.”
Moving forward, O’Brien said he wants LakePoint Sports to continue to grow methodically and responsibly.
“We don’t want to have any false positives or any false starts,” he said. “We want to be true to what we’re going to do in the community, and in greater Atlanta and as the leader in youth sports.”
He said LakePoint Sports is also looking at potential festival and concert opportunities, as well as conferences — be they sports-related or connected to other types of industries.
Also speaking at the event was Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor.
“You won’t get the hype and the promises, but I can tell you LakePoint will fully develop out — I can’t give you a timeline, I wish I could, I don’t think anybody can,” he said. “But I can tell you that this is going to be an ongoing, continuous investment coming back to the community.”
And that, Taylor said, includes possible plans for more public-private partnerships.
“They were just in the office again this morning talking about other ideas and things to come,” he said. "We're excited about it."
Giving opening remarks at the event, which concluded with a groundbreaking ceremony for the new hotel, was Emerson Mayor Al Pallone.
“A vision was brought to this city about a play-and-stay,” he said. “What we see here is the beginning of that … the quality of this development that was brought into Emerson, I believe, is starting to fulfill that vision.”
As for the bridge linking LakePoint Sports' southern campus to its sprawling, 500-plus acre northern campus, O’Brien said the latest he’s heard from Emerson officials is that an early-to-mid November opening date is being targeted.
“This just enables us to build out a much more meaningful, impactful premier youth sports destination, that it is right now today,” he said, “but expand upon that.”
As for potential north campus projects at LakePoint Sports, both Bemis and O’Brien remained tight-lipped.
However, O’Brien said that future growth will be pursued in both traditional sports and “emerging sports and technology,” including outdoor adventure sports.
“We’re assessing new sports verticals daily,” he said. “Certainly, we’re assessing food and beverage, restaurants, new lodging, resorts, hotels. We’re looking at all of it.”