05/31/06 — Paramount Theater's third floor to be removed

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Paramount Theater's third floor to be removed

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 31, 2006 1:58 PM

For the first time in months, there is action at the Paramount Theater, but the crews are not laying new brick or concrete -- they are knocking a piece of what is left of the building down.

By order of the city, the third story of the historic theater is coming down today. Officials at City Hall said the undertaking is part of a project that will make Center Street safer and allow neighboring businesses to move back in.

Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan said by knocking down the top section of the facade, waterproofing and shoring up the building's two side walls, the street will be safer for neighboring businesses and pedestrians.

Still, she added, the work being done could affect the future of the Paramount project.

"We're trying to save as much of the facade as we can," she said. "But the project could potentially affect money coming in from the facade."

Mrs. Logan was referencing close to $1 million in tax credits that the Paramount reconstruction effort became eligible for recently.

But Downtown Goldsboro Develop-ment Corp. Executive Director Julie Thompson said the action all but eliminates that possibility.

"We became eligible for the historic tax credit by the skin of our teeth," she said. "I think this will make that obsolete."

Without the tax credit, Mrs. Thompson said, the project might not work out as intended. Recently, a private group of residents expressed interest in raising funds for the Paramount, she added, but now they will likely have $1 million less to work with.

"If the private group doesn't need the tax credit, then more power to them," she said. "But this changes things."

Mrs. Thompson added that besides the funding issue, tearing down a piece of the facade hurts downtown.

"I'll be sad to see it go," she said. "The streetscape downtown won't be the same. The Paramount is the only three-story building in that area."

After the Paramount burned last year, Mayor Al King told City Council members to fast-track reconstruction efforts, but lack of funding became a concern recently when some Paramount Reconstruction Committee members suggested a $12 million replacement.

Earlier this year, committee chairman Chuck Allen said the project was no longer a priority and set no further meeting dates.

Just a few weeks ago, King announced that a "private group" had taken over the project.