Plans approved for multi-million dollar Gaillard Auditorium makeover

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The 45-year-old Gaillard Auditorium will soon undergo a multi-million dollar makeover. The proposed plans were approved by the Charleston Board of Architectural Review at a meeting that took place on Wednesday.

Construction will take about two and a half years, and the auditorium will be renamed "The Gaillard Center."

"It's a great opportunity for us to remake the whole block, think about this as an integrated part of the city," Civic Design Center Director Michael Maher said.

The plans include a new building facade, renovating the performance space and building city offices on the grounds. The city will even create a new outdoor space, naming it the "Gaillard Arts Precinct." It will be available for special outdoor events.

"It starts to open up whole new ways people think about what can go on in the city. You could have an afternoon jazz in the park lunch concert or an evening pre-event for the Gaillard, might be an evening string quartet or something like that," Maher said.

Residents of nearby Ansonborough and Wraggsborough neighborhoods are concerned about what the changes may bring.

"It's going to completely denigrate our neighborhood to have the green space in front of Gaillard to be used for exhibitions and other public events and have porti potties and other things like that. It's going to be a mess," resident Kirk Grant said.

The city says this public space will attract people, but all special events require special permitting from the city, and things like amplified sound, outdoor restrooms, traffic and parking will all be taken into account.

"There is a whole process that we go through with special events permits for events in the city. That whole process has its own checks and balances to make sure any event is compatible with the life of the city," Maher said.

Construction is set to start in August. The newly renovated performance space is set to open by early 2015. The total cost of the project is $142 million.

Copyright WCSC 2012. All rights reserved.