Foundation Seeks $4.5 million From City For Carolina Theatre Project

Jul 14, 2017

The Foundation for the Carolinas is asking the city for $4.5 million to make up a shortfall in fundraising for the Carolina Theatre renovation project uptown. The City Council's Economic Development Committee unanimously recommended the expenditure Thursday, which now goes to the full council for a vote on July 24. 

Architect's drawing of the planned InterContinental Hotel, above a renovated Carolina Theatre at Sixth and Tryon streets in Charlotte.
Credit Foundation for the Carolinas

The shortfall is due in part to higher than projected costs for the project. Foundation CEO Michael Marsicano told the committee Thursday that includes more than expected expenses for removing lead paint and asbestos, rising construction costs, and a delay in finding a partner for the hotel to be built above the theater.

The foundation has raised $45.6 million to date, and expects to bring in another $1.4 million with additional fundraising. But that's $4.5 million short of the $51.5 million needed, according to Marsicano. A previous estimate for the cost was $44 million. 

The city would fund the request by issuing $4.5 million in debt backed by tourism-related taxes.

The old theater at North Tryon and Sixth streets opened in 1927, hosting Vaudeville shows, films and Elvis Pressley before falling into disrepair and shutting down in the 1970s.

The foundation is leading the redevelopment after buying the property from the City of Charlotte for $1 in 2013. The theater is next door to the foundation's North Tryon Street headquarters.

The theater is only part of the project. In March, the foundation announced a deal with an investment group for a 252-room luxury hotel on top of the theater, to be called the InterContinental.  This week Marsicano said the hotel now is likely to be 270 rooms and cost about $94 million.

The hotel developers will pay the foundation for the “air rights” above the theater. The foundation also is getting an equity stake in the hotel project, which could bring in more income in the future if the hotel is sold. All that money would go toward renovating and operating the 950-seat theater.

The foundation plans to manage the theater, which would host community arts events, speeches and forums.