"I think it's a tribute to those who did their homework to begin with to determine how much it would cost," Burton said. "We've had cost increases, but they were pretty much anticipated, so we built those costs contingencies in. We're very happy with the product we're seeing. It's going to be a great product. We're kind of anxious to see where we go from here to the grand opening."
The expansion comes in response to high use of the facility. "Studies are showing we are way ahead of our original projections on what our usage was going to be," said Burton. "We thought it would be six or seven years, or even 10 years before expansion. Instead, the center will have been open less than four years by the time the addition is in use.
The centerpiece of the expansion is an 18,000-square-foot exhibit space area, which will allow for trade shows to be held, often in conjunction with conventions. That's far bigger than the 12,000 square foot Meridian Ballroom, the next largest single space in the center. The new exhibit hall is built to handle semi-trucks and other heavy equipment.
"The (grand opening) trade show will show off snowmobiles, RVs and 4-wheel drive vehicles from all of the local RV places," said Scott Lunt, conference center general manager. The grand opening ceremony will be at 2 p.m. with a VIP reception to follow until 4 p.m. The free public trade show runs to 9 p.m. and will continue Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Davis County Convention & Visitors Bureau officials, as well as marketing personnel at the Conference Center, have noted for several years that some conventions were being lost. That was either because they were too large for the existing space, or the trade show component couldn't be handled. Now, marketing personnel at both entities have been booking conventions to include the new space, some due to be held this year.
"What will differ for us is that this is opening up a whole new market," Lunt said. "This will give us additional booking slots for that market.
"Currently we host several corporate, multi-day conventions, and now we can go for the bigger shows such as exposition trade shows, and home and garden shows."
He anticipates that some of the shows that were held in the Salt Palace or South Towne Exposition Centre in Sandy may move to Davis County, along with other regional and national shows that may come to Layton as their first exposure to Utah.
"We are really the only conference center connected to a hotel. We're in a unique position," Lunt said of the Davis Conference Center. That hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, was strongly pursued by county commissioners when they first planned for the facility some years ago.
In addition to the new exhibition hall, which can be divided into two, there is 7,000 square feet of additional meeting space, providing the possibility of partitioning into smaller meeting rooms.
A large new lobby is what visitors to the new area will notice first, meaning booths can be set up there as well as in other areas of the facility. An as-yet unnamed art piece, valued at $50,000, will hang in the lobby. It'll be ready in time for the gala to be held later this summer.
"People always say they feel so comfortable here, with the warm colors as well as the sandstone-colored granite tile," Lunt said of the Conference Center ambiance. Skylights will continue to add to that bright feeling, along with a continuation of the earth-tone colors in the floors and walls.
Ascent Construction of Centerville is the general contractor and GSGS of Salt Lake City was the architect.