By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read November 2019 — In the information age, knowledge is power. As Charlotte continues to attract top-level companies and talent across multiple industries to the region, Mecklenburg County wants to provide Charlotteans a sleek, modern, and highly technological space to study, learn, and absorb information. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library unveiled the design plans for its new $135 million, 115,000-square-foot Main Library in Uptown Charlotte. The design features five levels and one lower level, two outdoor terraces, immersive theaters, conference rooms, and a revamped Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room. The plans were revealed two days after voters rejected an arts- and education-related sales tax increase.
The new Main Library will be made possible via a public-private partnership. According to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the county has committed $65 million to the project. The library’s foundation will raise the remaining $70 million through a new campaign, called CommonSpark. Reportedly, the Knight Foundation pledged a $10 million donation to the new library on Thursday. Demolition is slated for 2021, with an expected completion date of 2024.
The plans for the new Main Library come after Mecklenburg County voters rejected a 0.25% sales tax increase that would have funded art, education, parks and more for Charlotte. If passed, the sales tax would have increased from its current 7.25% to 7.5%. Sales tax advocates, which included the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, estimated the tax would raise around $50 million a year for arts and education-related initiatives.
Though voters rejected the sales tax, the new library is part of the vision for Uptown Charlotte as the area continues to develop. “The new main library will be an architecturally-distinctive, state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced knowledge center and public commons, where everyone in our community can access the resources of a 21st-century library,” said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO Lee Keesler in a press release. “The new Main Library helps further our mission to improve lives and build a stronger community by strengthening public engagement, supporting economic opportunity and connecting community resources.”
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system is comprised of 20 libraries and it serves more than 1 million residents, according to its website. The Main Library design plans account for a job training center, counseling services space, along with the core technology and maker space offerings, including a technology center, computer lab, digital visualization lab, and recording studios. Two outdoor terraces will overlook Tryon Street and Uptown Charlotte, giving visitors a front-and-center look at the transformation of the area.
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