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$800K Renovation Set For Belk Theater Ladies Room


  Theater-going ladies will rejoice at an $800,000 restroom renovation on the city council's agenda Monday night.

Not to be indelicate, here, but using the ladies' room during intermission at the Belk theater is a real drag, as a random sampling of women who work at WFAE illustrates.

"The line, it's always atrocious," says one WFAE female staffer.

"I try to go beforehand, because I don't even want to do that battle and possibly miss some of the show," adds another.

"I plan in advance," chimes a third. "I only drink one glass of wine at the show."

Technically, the Belk's Orchestra-level bathroom is plenty big to meet building codes for large gatherings, says Blumenthal Performing Arts President Tom Gabbard. But funnel your entire potty-going public into one basement-corner facility during a 10-minute intermission and you've got a problem.

So, for the first time since the theater opened in 1992, the ladies' room is getting a makeover. Gabbard says there'll be twice as many stalls: "We're going from 24 to 48, so there's essentially a new wing."

And more sinks and exits to improve flow.  

The restroom renovation will cost Charlotte taxpayers about $800,000.  Yes, taxpayers, because the city owns the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center – as it does all the big cultural facilities Uptown – and is responsible for major maintenance and building upgrades.

Gabbard says we're not talking gold-plated toilets, here. But punching out a reception room for a new row of stalls and running all that new plumbing doesn't come cheap. The money will come from the fund reserved for maintenance and improvements to all city buildings.

Why exactly does the Belk's bathroom warrant such spending?

"This is one of the key gathering places for Charlotte," says Gabbard. "It's not just for performing arts - lots of community meetings and activities take place here year round, so making sure the public was adequately served was a priority."

Speaking of gathering, there'll be a lot less of that going on in line for the ladies' loo once the renovations are finished early next year.