The gift from the families of Claudia Belk and the late John M. Belk and Katherine Belk and the late Thomas M. Belk will support renovation of the historic 36,000-square-foot theater, which has stood largely vacant since 1978 and which the foundation purchased nearly two years ago. To be named Belk Place in recognition of the gift, the project will conjoin the theater with FFTC's current headquarters, creating a campus-like setting featuring a new lobby and three additional floors for use by the foundation and other nonprofits. To date, the foundation has raised $20.7 million toward its $35 million goal for the project.
FFTC president and CEO Michael Marsicano said that the foundation is considering partnering with a developer to build a $60 million boutique hotel that would partially overhang the theater. No philanthropic or foundation dollars would be used for that project, he added.
M.C. Pilon, daughter of former Charlotte mayor John M. Belk, told the Charlotte Observer that the restoration of the theater — which opened on the same street and in the same year, 1927, as the Belk department store — will carry the family's legacy of civic leadership and public service to the community forward. "It's generational," she said of the project. "It's able to honor the history of the Carolina Theatre, and to be something new and relevant, a forward-thinking space our community can use for the future."
"The Belk families have a passionate commitment to our community," said Marsicano. "Their name is synonymous with five pillars of activity that Foundation for the Carolinas holds dear — philanthropy, public service, volunteerism, civic engagement, and thought leadership. What more fitting name than Belk Place to grace this constellation of civic amenities we are creating with the restoration of the Carolina Theatre."