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Plans on track for BW Conference Center

Plans on track for BW Conference Center

The new Briggs Woods Conference Center is moving ever-closer to becoming a reality. Plans have been designed, fundraising is underway and organizers hope that everything can be in place for a spring or summer ground breaking.

According to Kelly Haman, events coordinator for Briggs Woods Golf Course, the idea for the conference center began percolating several years ago. In 2012, the golf course added garden tented area for summer weddings and gatherings. She said the venue was a great success and in demand, but really didn’t work well for fall or winter events.

“So we decided to look at something permanent,” said Haman.

Originally, the plans called for a 2,500-square-foot facility attached to the existing golf club house, which would have also remodeled the basement of the clubhouse.

“Most of the feedback we received was that the facility needed to be bigger,” she said, adding,

“That just wasn’t big enough to do what we want it to do.”

“So, now, we’ve gone through what feels like 1,000 different designs before we landed on what we have now,” she said. Everything also seemed to point to making the center a stand-alone, separate building, according to Haman.

“We looked at attaching it to the clubhouse and it took up such a giant footprint that there was no room for outdoor space and tying in the roof line would have been very difficult,” she said.

With the separate building, Haman said they found they were able to do everything the way they wanted to and to have the space to be a true conference center.

“We want keep Hamilton County and Webster City busy and bring in all of those events that we’re missing out on now,” she said.

The final plans, which were revealed last month in a launch party, features an 11,500-square-foot space including a spacious, full-service kitchen, large restrooms and a foyer.

“When we first started,we had a small lobby area,” she said. “But then we realized we have three separate meeting rooms and a board room. We could have four different events going on at one time. We needed places for people to move around and arrive, as well as places to hang coats. So that meant a larger space was needed for then entrance.”

Webster City Custom Meats have sponsored the new foyer area, which will be named in the business’s honor.

The three different larger meeting rooms can be operated separately or combined into one large room. The first conference room can seat 203 people comfortably while the second room holds up to 83 people and the third can seat 65. Combined to one large space, the room will seat upwards of 350 guests.

There is also a small board room which will accommodate about 30 people. That room can also be used for a bridal changing room, an additional service area or for small meetings, according to Russ Appel, golf course manager,

“The building is really flexible so we can accommodate a variety of group sizes,” he said. “Each room is designed to be independent from the others, each with its own audio-visual equipment, heating and cooling.”

The building will sit to the north of clubhouse. The current rental cart shed will be torn down for the construction. A landscaped area with an entertainment gazebo between the club house and conference center will also lend itself for outdoor gatherings at either facility.

“That will be a great multi-purpose facility,” she said.

Appel said in the past there have been several missed opportunities for large golf events, conferences and conventions, due to the space limitations and seating capacity.

The architect’s cost projection for the conference center is $2.6 million which encompasses the entire project — site work, construction, landscaping, furnishings and equipment.

Currently, about a half-million dollars have been raised for the project. Haman said the project started fundraising last year, then stopped to redesign the plans, and now the fundraising efforts have been restarted. Since the launch night event, the exterior plans have been tweaked to give the structure a more natural look to blend well with the clubhouse and the tranquil surroundings.

Grants are in the works, as well. The project was awarded funds from Enhance Hamilton County Foundation as well as Webster City Hotel/Motel Tax grants. Appel stressed that no property tax dollars will be used to complete the project. They said they expect to continue with fundraising in the next few weeks and look for grants to cycle through to completion. Haman and Appel said if all goes well, they hope to begin ground work this spring or early summer with construction is expected to take 10 months.

“Once we get started and have a fairly clear date of when that will be done, Kelly can start booking events. We’re not going to open the doors and wait for people to come — we’re going to go out a seek bookings,” Appel said.

Haman said there may be the misconception in the public that the new venue will be like others in the community.

“It’s designed to provide something new that’s not here already. We’ll have the full-service kitchen that will be able to provide meals and food service, and more,” she said. “We’re not competing with the other venues in the area and there are some fantastic places like the fairgrounds buildings, The Bridge and others.

“It’s our hope that when we have this facility, we’re so busy that we can redirect overflow business to the existing businesses in Webster City,” she said. “Even in Stratford there’s a beautiful winery that has a wonderful barn venue.”

“We really want this facility to be a complement to the area, not competition. We want to bring people to the area for meetings, weddings and conferences so they can spend money at the gas stations, at restaurants and entertainment here,” she said. “And hopefully, they’ll spend a little on golf, too.”

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