08/07/05 — City eyes options for Paramount

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City eyes options for Paramount

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 7, 2005 2:04 AM

The city is getting closer to deciding what to build at the site of the old Paramount Theater.

The Paramount Committee has visited theaters and convention centers in Raleigh and Rocky Mount to get ideas for the rebuilding process.

The theater, built in 1882, was destroyed by a fire in February.

City Manager Joe Huffman said that the Progress Energy building in Raleigh, formerly the BTI Center, gave him some additional insight in the differences between a performance hall and a theater.

"Not being a theater person myself, there were a lot of things I didn't know," he said. "I was really hit by the dramatic differences of what it's going to take."

Huffman said the committee is looking at a variety of uses for the new building, including a theater with break-out meeting rooms.

"There are also needs in the pit area in front of the stage and backstage dressing areas," he said. "So, we're looking at expanding those areas."

He said the committee hopes to keep the building's facade.

In addition, the city is looking for ways to pay for the project, estimated to cost close to $10 million. There's a possibility the building could be eligible for historic tax credits as well as new market tax credits.

"We're trying to get as much as we possibly can, if we're eligible," Huffman said.

The city also hopes to get revenue from partnerships with non-profit organizations.

The Paramount Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in city hall.