Architectural firm to study Carolina Theatre‘s condition

The old Carolina Theatre has moved closer to renovation with the hiring of an Ohio firm to study its condition in advance of a possible 2016 construction start.

The Foundation for the Carolinas has hired architectural firm Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland to spend the next 90 to 120 days studying what years of disuse have done to the historic structure.

“It’s more of a fact-finding contract than anything else,” said former Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton, whom the foundation hired to manage the project.

An architectural firm could be hired late this year or next year to design the new project, he added. The foundation has launched a fundraising campaign for the $25 million renovation; Bank of America gave $5 million in January.

The theater, located at 230 N. Tryon St., was built in 1927 and is one of uptown’s most distinctive buildings, with wrought-iron chandeliers, Moorish tiled floors and a Spanish cathedral window.

The theater closed in 1978, and the city acquired it in 1986. Various renovation plans had fallen flat until the foundation in 2012 offered to buy the property for $1 and use it as a civic meeting space.

The foundation has also said it wants to build a “boutique” mid-rise office building above the theater, with civic organizations as its primary tenants.

The foundation and other groups also hope the theater’s renovation will add momentum to their plans to revive North Tryon Street, which they say has been eclipsed by the new museum district and the Duke Energy Center on South Tryon.