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Convention center falls into foreclosure
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The economic downturn felt across north Georgia and much of the nation has taken its toll on the owners of a popular community gathering place.

"The last five years have been very difficult," said Vernon Smith, who along with his wife Jeannie opened the Lakeview Center on Dawson Forest Road a decade ago. "This is both sad and happy. Ten years, it's been a long time."

The center is now in foreclosure and is expected to close within the next few weeks.

"This is one of the most difficult things. We've been fighting it and hanging on. We've invested a lot of money," Smith said.

A former church, the Smiths transformed the center into an entertainment venue for weddings, special events, trade shows, banquets and musical or theatrical performances, among others.

In addition to the banquet room with a stage, dance floor and balcony seating, the nearly 15,000-square-foot building also features meeting rooms and a kitchen.

The pending closure has forced several local organizations that utilize the facilities to find new meeting spots.

Smith called the move a "difficult business decision."

"I've dealt with many, many businesses that have gone through what I've been suffering the last five years," he said. "I'm going to miss the Lakeview Center. Hopefully, we have contributed to this community, because we gave it our best effort."

The center had been on the sales market for several years.

Smith, who also owns Lakeview Publishing, said the phone directory operation on the property will remain open.