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Arts & Culture

Actor's Theatre Of Charlotte Finds New Home In Belmont Neighborhood

This past summer Actors Theatre of Charlotte shared some news: the building they had called home for over a decade was going to be sold and demolished to make way for new apartments and stores.

After looking at over a dozen spaces the theater is ready to announce plans for its next move. And this new location comes with some history attached. WFAE’s Sarah Delia has the details.

When Actors Theatre of Charlotte first learned they’d have to find a new home they weren’t too surprised given Charlotte’s development boom. But it meant they’d have to relocate…and fast.

"I think anytime when you know when you’re going to have to leave your home it’s uncomfortable. I think we’ve all had that moment when we are locking up at night and we look around the space and go 'oh…no'" said Martin Kettling, the theater's general manager.

The theater currently sits on East Stonewall Street in a corner of uptown. In 2004, when they first moved in, it wasn't all that desirable of a location . But now it’s prime real estate and the theater is a casualty of new construction.

The theater’s future home is nestled in the Belmont neighborhood on Louise Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Plaza Midwood, a neighborhood experiencing its own slew of development.

This new home has the potential to be even better. For one, it’s a larger space which means more seats and room to grow. And two, there are plans for a brewery and a restaurant, two neighbors that would add to the theater-going experience.

Doug Bradley, the owner of the building says along with the location and other attractions, the building the Actor's Theatre of Charlotte would operate out of has some history that may be familiar to longtime Charlotte residents.

“Originally, it was Jack’s Cookies. It was built in 1944. It’s always been a bakery. It’s been in continual use as a bakery until March of last year. Kellogg’s was the final operator but it had been Jack’s Cookies for a number of years," said Bradley. 

Walking through the former bakery you can see some remnants of its past life. There’s even an old conveyor that would have gone to the next building.

This space solves a few of the problems the old one had says Artistic Director Chip Decker.

"If there was a big complaint it was that 'oh we got to drive there, so we can’t go to dinner because we don’t have time, we can’t get a drink afterwards because we can’t walk down the street.' This location really answers a lot of questions for us and for patrons," Decker said.

Now restaurants would be within walking distance. Enough space for parking would no longer be an issue. People could truly make it a night on the town.

Decker says it was important to be relatively close to the old location, they didn’t want to add to the commutes of their patrons. And although they’ll be slightly farther away from Uptown where many arts institutions live, they’re ok with that.  

“On the periphery of the cities, what gives them the heart of the art I think is the stuff that grows organically around it. I think it’s important that we have those artistic endeavors on the outskirts," Decker said. 

They haven’t quite signed the dotted line yet. The Actor's Theatre of Charlotte says they need to raise about $750,000 to start and they’d like to have a significant chunk of that before they sign the lease which will likely be in May. Their season comes to an end on East Stonewall in June, with the hope of starting their next season early 2017 on Louise Avenue.

During that hiatus, they’ll be fundraising and undergoing construction. An exciting time for a theater that lost its stage to new development, only to find it in a building with some history that’s just waiting for the show to go on.