Charlotte hires consultant to guide $100 million Convention Center renovation

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority is moving forward with its plans to overhaul the uptown Convention Center, hiring a consultant to design and plan for the upcoming renovation.

Charlotte City Council approved a $1.6 million contract on Monday for the schematic design and detailed cost estimates of the renovation. TVS North Carolina, a firm affiliated with Atlanta-based architecture and design firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates (TVS Design), has been selected for the job, according to the CRVA. They’ve designed more than 80 convention centers, including in Washington, D.C., Orange County, Calif., and Charlotte’s convention center.

“This work...has been a long process,” said CRVA chief executive Tom Murray. “We had some broad ranges of what that would cost, but knew that needed further refinement.”

The 21-year-old Convention Center needs a major renovation over the next six years to stay competitive with peer cities, the CRVA has said. The initial proposal calls for adding about 34,000 square feet to the center’s 330,000 square feet of meeting space, rebuilding the Stonewall Street-facing facade and better connecting the center to the rest of uptown, including a pedestrian bridge to the new Whole Foods under construction at Crescent Stonewall Station.

The $1.6 million TVS design contract will be funded through the Convention Center’s dedicated tax fund, which is paid for with a 1 percent tax on prepared food and a portion of the city’s hotel tax. Although the CRVA says completing the design work doesn’t obligate Charlotte to move forward with the $100 million renovation, the CRVA expects to bring more contracts to City Council for approval in the fall.

Here are some more details on the preliminary plans:

▪ The center’s side facing Stonewall Street today is an uninviting concrete facade. The renovation plan would create a new glass front, which would also create 26,000 new square feet of small meeting space. Murray said it would become a “second front door” and make the Stonewall Street side of the convention center – mostly blank walls and loading docks – more attractive.

▪ The pedestrian bridge over Stonewall Street would be adjacent to the light-rail tracks. It would allow guests to enter the Westin hotel without crossing the street.

▪ The center’s side facing Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard would also be changed. The CRVA would create a terrace that could be open to the elements in nice weather by opening partitions or closed during the summer or winter.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo