Lesbian & Gay Community Center, White Rabbit Books relocating
Committee formed to scope out new locale
by Michael Kelley and Donald Smith
This rendering shows what the new owners of 1401 Central Ave. plan for the facility to look like.
CHARLOTTE — The board members of the Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte (LGCC) announced Aug. 15 the formation of a relocation committee to begin the task of seeking new space for the Center.
On July 25, 2007, the building at 1401 Central Ave., which houses the Center and White Rabbit Books was sold to new owners. A few days later, the LGCC Board received notice of the intention of the new owners to effectively double the rent — from the old rate of approximately $3,800 per month, to a new rate above $7,000.
According to Denise Palm-Beck, vice chair of the Center’s Board, the site is set to be renovated to make way for new businesses that are popping up in the booking area.
“They’re going to put a coffee shop with a balcony that overlooks the city,” says Palm-Beck. “They want to add other offices, like a travel company and maybe some retail. They may start as soon as November on renovations. There has been no clarification as to the exact date — but we’re hoping we’ll be able to stay at least until November.”
“As difficult as it will be to relocate from our current location, especially after the amount of work, time and history that has taken place at 1401 Central Ave. it is a great opportunity for the community to further strengthen and build the future of the Center and to work on someday purchasing a permanent location.” LGCC Board Chairperson Joe Campos said. “I believe that the Charlotte community will make that dream a reality.”
The LGCC Board has spent the past nine months climbing out of debt, laying off staff and minimizing expenses. The new rental rate threatens to put the current positive financial picture back into the red.
The Board hopes to negotiate a short-term lease for the current space to provide time to locate a new space and plan an orderly transition.
“We will be looking into possibly downsizing the space,” said Board member David Lari. “The current space is not being fully utilized, so we believe we can operate in a smaller space if necessary.” The committee will be charged with evaluating different options including the purchase of a building. A commercial real estate broker has volunteered his services.
Owners of the new facility are reportedly planning to remodel the current White Rabbit site and divide it into two storefront spaces. One of the possibilities the board is looking at is the lease of one of those sites.
The Center, which opened in 2003, serves the greater Charlotte LGBT community with support groups, meeting space, free HIV testing, social events and other programming. Two tenants sublease space in the Center and the Center employs one part-time staffer.