10/31/05 — Fundraising planned for Paramount

View Archive

Fundraising planned for Paramount

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 31, 2005 1:57 PM

It has been nearly seven months since the Paramount Theater burned down, and many city residents still don't know much about plans to rebuild Goldsboro's historic building.

Timothy Lanton, 36, remembers the sights and smells of the February fire and is waiting for reconstruction to begin.

"I missed the fire but remember I saw the building smoldering and could smell that campfire smell," Lanton said. "It's been a while, and I thought the city would have something started by now."

After the fire, city officials said they would fast-track plans to bring the Paramount back to downtown Goldsboro. Councilman Chuck Allen was named chairman of the nine-member committee formed to plan and oversee the project.

Other members include councilmen Jimmy Bryan and Don Chatman, City Manager Joe Huffman, Recreation and Parks Director Neil Bartlett, Julie Thompson of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation, Brenda Baldwin from Stage Struck, Henry Weil, who helped lead the Paramount's renovation 15 years ago, and Carroll Overton, a member of the Community Building's Board of Trustees.

The projected cost of the reconstruction has gradually increased over time, starting at $6 million. Currently, officials say the project's price tag has reached an estimated $8 million to $12 million.

Last month, Bartlett said the increased estimated cost of the project is linked to the committee's consideration of the purchase of more land around the building for a larger structure and a bigger parking area.

"What we're looking at is trying to acquire all the property from the theater south to Chestnut Street and possibly property to the southwest also," he said.

Many, including Goldsboro resident Deana Willis, say they wonder where that money will come from and why the city can't spend some of that money on other projects.

"We have so many things that need to get done in this city, and I don't think we need to be spending that much on the Paramount," Mrs. Willis said. "Can we even come up with that kind of money without raising taxes?"

Committee members said fundraising will be a key component in paying off the bill. Some events have already been scheduled, including the Holiday Historic Homes Tour on Dec. 11. The public can buy tickets for the event, which will include a tour of historic venues across the cities and conclude with an oyster roast.

Additionally, Bartlett said the Paramount is classified as a historic property with the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office and Goldsboro is eligible for a state and federal tax credit potentially worth 40 percent of the total project cost.

He added the committee now hopes to bring in a consultant, Wishness and Associates, to help the city get as much money as possible in tax credits for the project.

"They have experience with getting money for historic property," he said. "We think they can help us get the most money possible."

Over the last few months, the committee has also hired an architectural firm, Pearce, Brinkley, Cease and Lee, and held a public forum during which community members could give their input on the theater project.

This firm was responsible for the renovation of Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium in 1990 and designed the additions for Meymandi Hall and Fletcher Opera Theater.