The Carolina Theatre in uptown Charlotte has sat vacant for more than 30 years.
But in its heyday, stars like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra played there.
City council members are considering plans to renew the theater to its old glory. They got a step closer yesterday to choosing one. The Council’s Economic Development Committee voted 3-2 to support selling the property for $1 to the Foundation for the Carolinas.
The non-profit wants to renovate the theater and dedicate it to civic use. During the week, it would be used for town hall meetings and panel discussions. There would be performances on weekends. The proposal also includes adding an office building mostly reserved for non-profits and civic groups.
Council members also liked a plan by the Ark Group. That's the private developer behind the NC Music Factory.
The firm’s proposal is somewhat similar, but with a significant difference in price. The Ark Group offered $500,000. The company wants to renovate the theater, and dedicate to entertainment functions. The Ark Group would also add a building for commercial use with space set aside for non-profits and civic groups.
But Republican Warren Cooksey says he thinks the Foundation is a better fit for the property.
“I think it’s the Foundation of the Carolinas that is most equipped to, through whatever we can predict, be able to take it off our plate and keep it off our plate.”
Cooksey says his priority is financial stability. Private companies, he says, can be less dependable.
“These things have gone wrong in the past. I’m a little skittish right now about putting conditions on transferring property from the city to a private owner only to have the private owner not be able to carry out what the city was aiming for.”
The full city council will vote on the plans December 17.
This story is part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance.