20-story InterContinental hotel to rise atop Carolina Theatre in Charlotte

Rendering of the planned InterContinental hotel atop the Carolina Theatre.
Rendering of the planned InterContinental hotel atop the Carolina Theatre.

Charlotte is getting a major new luxury hotel as part of the long-planned restoration of a historic-but-derelict theater uptown, officials announced Tuesday.

A 250-room InterContinental hotel will rise atop the renovated and restored Carolina Theatre at Sixth and North Tryon streets. In addition to continuing uptown’s hotel building boom, the new hotel tower will add momentum to designs for revitalizing the northern end of uptown.

The $42 million planned renovation of the theater is starting in May, Foundation for the Carolinas CEO Michael Marsicano said. The non-profit foundation owns the defunct theater. This will be the first InterContintental-brand hotel in Charlotte. The upscale hotel targets “international luxury travel,” and operates 187 locations in cities including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Beijing and Sao Paulo.

The building dates to 1927, and was once one of Charlotte’s grand theaters. Since it closed in 1978, the building has sat vacant and deteriorating. In the 1980s, the city dismantled the old building facade’s windows, arches and exterior ornaments, storing them under the crumbling stage.

“This ugly duckling will start the transformation to a beautiful swan,” said Marsicano at the group’s annual meeting. The new hotel and renovated theater are planned to open in 2019, about two years after construction starts.

In 2012, Charlotte City Council gave the theater to the foundation for $1. In the nearly five years since, the building has mostly sat unchanged. In December 2015, the foundation announced plans to build a hotel atop the old theater and renovate the interior, joining the building with its own headquarters next door and creating a new civic space uptown.

Plans call for restoring the theater and its original facade behind a new “jewel box” glass exterior, which will frame a new lobby.

Construction on the renovation had been planned to start in mid-2016, but was delayed. Valor Hospitality Partners signed on to lease the air rights above the theater and bring in a 4- or 5-star luxury hotel for the property. SB&G Hotel Group, an Australian company, is partnering with Valor on the project.

The 250-room hotel is planned to total 20 stories. Atop the five-story theater, that would bring the project’s total height to 25 stories.

Foundation for the Carolinas is the sixth-largest of the nation’s 800 or so community foundations, with more than $2.1 billion worth of assets.

Hotel boom, North Tryon plan

The InterContinental is the latest – and most upscale – new hotel planned uptown. Since cratering during the recession and its aftermath, the uptown hotel market has seen a surge of new projects that could increase the number of hotel rooms by around 40 percent.

These projects include:

▪ Embassy Suites, across from the NASCAR Hall of Fame (250 rooms, opened this month).

▪ Kimpton, next to Romare Bearden Park (217 rooms, opening in October).

▪ Springhill Suites, across from the Spectrum Center (195 rooms, opening in April).

▪ AC Hotel/Residence Inn, atop the EpiCentre (300 rooms, opening in late 2017 or early 2018).

Other projects on the drawing books uptown include a Grand Bohemian hotel next to the Carillon building and a pair of new hotels at the Crescent Stonewall Station development on Stonewall Street.

And more changes are planned near the Carolina Theatre site as part of the North Tryon Vision Plan, meant to spur more development along the northern side of uptown. Mecklenburg County is considering a complex proposal to replace the Main Library on Tryon Street, redevelop the surrounding area with more apartments and office buildings, refurbish Hall House, McGlohon Theater and Spirit Square, and bring in more shops, restaurants and retail space.

The city of Charlotte is also considering a major renovation and new master plan for Discovery Place across the street, meant to enlarge and update the building.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo