Levine Center for the Arts

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Mint Museum in uptown Charlotte

Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street in Charlotte, North Carolina includes Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Mint Museum Uptown. It was named for Leon Levine, whose foundation provided financing.[1]


After a year of study by the Arts & Science Council, the 25-year Cultural Facilities Master Plan became a reality in November 2003. The plan was the next stage following a 1976 plan that led to such projects as Spirit Square, Discovery Place, and North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The $236 million first phase, including an $84 million endowment, included moving the Mint Museum uptown, a new contemporary art museum named for Andreas Bechtler, a new Afro-American Cultural Center, and a 1200-seat theater. These projects were included in a 2001 bond referendum that voters rejected.[2][3]

The Cultural Facilities Master Plan led to the Campaign for Cultural Facilities in 2006.[4][5] In addition to an endowment planned by the Arts & Science Council, and $35 million from Bank of America, Duke Energy and Wachovia Corp., the $150.5 million plan was to be financed by property taxes on a development by Wachovia, as well as a 4 percent tax on car rentals which would have to be approved by the North Carolina General Assembly, and specifically by all legislators from Mecklenburg County. Wachovia was building an office tower and parking garage, though if financing was approved, the bank would also build four of the five attractions. Discovery Place, which was planning renovations, was the fifth. The Charlotte city council was to approve an agreement with Wachovia on February 27.[6] On December 1, the car-rental tax increased from 11 to 16 percent, with $1.35 million per year expected.[7]

Groundbreaking took place September 27, 2007 on the $158 million First Street Cultural Campus, also referred to as the Wachovia Cultural Campus.[8]

The tallest building of the complex was to be the Duke Energy Center. Also part of the complex would be the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the Bechtler Art Museum, and the Wachovia Condominium Tower.[9]

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art would hold 1200 works of art assembled by Andreas Bechtler and his family during the past 75 years, in a 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) building designed by Mario Botta.[10]

The Wachovia Condominium Tower would have had 42 floors and 410,000 square feet (38,000 m2) of space, designed by Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio.[11] Due to the 2007–2009 financial crisis, the only part of the tower built so far is part of the Knight Theater.[12]

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture would have four floors, cost $18.6 million and have 45,000 square feet (4,200 m2) of gallery, classroom, and administrative space.[13] It was dedicated October 24, 2009.[14]

Levine Avenue sign

After Wells Fargo announced its takeover of Wachovia, the city said its contract with Wachovia required "successors" to finish the project, after which the city and county would buy the attractions.[15][16][17] The campus was later renamed for Wells Fargo.[18] After large contributions from Duke Energy and Leon Levine Foundation resulted in the $83 million goal being reached, the Wells Fargo Cultural Campus became Levine Center for the Arts.[5][19] On October 1, 2010, the $56 million 145,000-square-foot Mint Museum Uptown opened, completing the $127 million campus.[20][21] Charlotte's city council changed the name of First Street to Levine Avenue of the Arts, with new signs revealed November 16.[22]


  1. ^ "Levine Center for the Arts - About". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  2. ^ Brown, Steven (2003-11-25). "Leaders Open Talks on Cultural Arts Plan". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  3. ^ Rubin, Richard; Brown, Steven (2003-11-23). "Creating a Vision for Arts, Culture". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  4. ^ "Arts & Science Council names Robert Bush interim president". Charlotte Business Journal. 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  5. ^ a b Williams-Tracy, Laura (2010-05-24). "Charlotte arts gain solid footing". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  6. ^ Rubin, Richard (2006-02-19). "Highest Hurdle Ahead for Arts? Winning City Support for Tax Was Hard; State May Prove Tougher Yet". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  7. ^ Stafford, Katy (2006-12-03). "Arts Plan Drives New Tax". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  8. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2007-09-27). "City breaks ground on $158M in cultural facilities". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  9. ^ "Wachovia Cultural Campus". Emporis.com. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  10. ^ "Bechtler Art Museum". Campaign for Cultural Facilities. Retrieved 2008-07-05. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Wachovia Condominium Tower". skyscraperpage.com. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  12. ^ "Wachovia Condominium Tower: Buildings". Emporis.com. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  13. ^ "Afro-American Cultural Center". architecture record. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  14. ^ Washburn, Mark (October 25, 2009). "Vivian and John Hewitt Built the Art Collection That Led to the Building of Harvey B. Gantt Center". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  15. ^ Finger, Katy (2008-10-10). "City staff says arts complex funding is covered". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  16. ^ Spanberg, Erik (2010-01-11). "A look back at the drawing board for Charlotte's Bechtler Museum". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  17. ^ Washburn, Mark (2008-10-11). "Uptown Museum Still on Schedule". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  18. ^ "Wake Forest nixes plans for uptown tower". Charlotte Business Journal. 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  19. ^ Quirk, Bea (2010-05-17). "Something Classic finds the recipe for success". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  20. ^ "Sonic to be heard in Cotswold". Charlotte Business Journal. 2010-10-04. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  21. ^ "Splendid new Mint opens a new arts era". The Charlotte Observer. 2010-10-01. p. 12A. 
  22. ^ Brown, Steven (2010-11-16). "Paved with generosity: Street hails Levines". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 

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