The long-awaited renovation of the Carolina Theatre in uptown Charlotte is scheduled to begin in May. That's according to the Foundation for the Carolinas, which owns the property. The foundation also announced Tuesday it has investors lined up for a luxury hotel to be built above the theater.
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.
“In two short months, this ugly duckling of today will begin its transformation to this swan of tomorrow,” foundation CEO Michael Marsicano said at Tuesday’s annual meeting at Charlotte Convention Center.
Marsicano compared the $44 million restoration to those at other historic theaters around the country, like The Palace in Cleveland and the Altria Theater in Richmond.
The foundation is leading redevelopment after buying the property from the City of Charlotte for $1 in 2013. Marsicano said they’ve already raised about $42 million toward the project. The theater is next door to the foundation's North Tryon Street headquarters.
The theater is only part of the project. Marsicano says the foundation is close to a deal with a lead investor to help pay for a 252-room luxury hotel on top of the theater.
Marsicano says an Australian company called SB&G will own the hotel, to be called the InterContinental. Another partner, Valor Hospitality Partners, will operate it.
The hotel could cost about $60 million, putting the whole project at more than $100 million, according to the foundation’s Laura Smith. She said the 950-seat theater and hotel are expected to open in 2019.
It would be among many new developments in the North Tryon Street corridor in the coming years, as part of the North Tryon Vision Plan. The foundation has helped lead a community effort to plot the future of the corridor.
The foundation also announced a financial milestone: topping $2 billion of assets. That's doubled since 2012, thanks to growth in the foundation's investments and new contributions to the charitable funds it manages.
“It took the foundation 18 years to grow from $3,000 in assets in 1958 to $1 million by 1976, and then another 36 years to hit the $1 billion mark in 2012,” Marsicano said. “We quickly set our sights on the next billion, never expecting it would happen overnight.”
But it happened in only four years, he said.
Meanwhile, Marsicano also reported on the main mission of the foundation – grantmaking.
In 2016, the foundation handed out more than 1,700 grants totaling $312 million. Those went to a range of causes, including disaster relief, education and human services.
He also said that during the past year, the foundation reduced fees for clients and expanded investment options.
March 28, 2017, FFTC.org, Foundation announcement of 2016 financial results