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Work begins on $142 million Gaillard renovation - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Work begins on $142 million Gaillard renovation

An excavator starts the process.  (Source: Nicole Johnson) An excavator starts the process. (Source: Nicole Johnson)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP/WCSC)) - Charleston broke ground on a $142 million makeover of the city's Gaillard Municipal Auditorium to create what city officials say will be a world class performing arts center.

Mayor Joe Riley was present on Tuesday and used a track hoe to begin demolition of a canopy. The mayor says he's thrilled to begin a new chapter of Charleston's history.

"It was thrilling and a little nerve-wrecking too," Riley said"I've never operated anything that big. The power of it is amazing. To have this formal major construction underway, it's just thrilling."

The Gaillard is a key venue for the internationally known Spoleto Festival USA.

The public-private plan calls for reducing the number of seats in the auditorium from 2,700 to 1,800. The existing exhibition hall will be renovated and city offices will be added on one side of the facility to be known as the Gaillard Center.

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