Architectural board approves Gaillard renovation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The architectural review board approved the conceptual phase of renovation on the Gaillard Center Thursday. The vote was one vote shy of unanimous.

The approval of the concept means that discussions of the height, scale and mass of the proposed design are finalized in the way they were presented at the review.

Local residents and civic leaders were present and voiced both concerns and support for the project's concept. The most common issues with the design were described by dissenting residents as not proportionally sized for the design's surrounding and views of the building from Anson and Alexander Streets.

Jim Scott, an architect and resident of the Ansonborough community, said he does not agree with the new Gaillard Center design.

"Our biggest concerns are Anson Street being treated like an alley. That's our major concern," Scott said.

Scott is also concerned about the renovation putting the historic district in jeopardy.

"You're going to have a two story building across from a historic church and that to me is problematic," Scott said.

For each dissenter, there was a resident in approval.

Nigel Redden, the general director of Spoleto USA, said he was overjoyed with the architectural review board's decision.

"I have dreamed about this for 25 years since I first came to Charleston," Redden said. "I'm absolutely thrilled this passed the first hurdle."

The proposal calls for a $142 million renovation to the Gaillard Center that is slated to be completed in the spring of 2012.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley was also at the meeting. He spoke about raising money for the venture. So far Riley said that a $20 million donation was given by an anonymous party. He also said that $51 million will be raised by the city's civic leaders leaving roughly half of the $142 million remaining to be funded.

"It will be the finest performance hall in all America and is a place that will give us enormous pride and satisfaction," Riley said. "It will be a huge boost for the Arts and a new economic engine for our city."

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