The mayor of Charleston wants to take advantage of Home Rule tax structure to raise $45-60 million to renovate the Charleston Civic Center.

“This is the only way we’re going to do this. And if it is ever going to be done, now is the time to do it,” Mayor Danny Jones said.

Jones, along with Charleston City Manager David Molgaard, unveiled the plan on Tuesday at Charleston City Hall.

Charleston is currently in the last six months of a five-year Home Rule pilot project. The state Legislature has made it clear, if they continue with the program for another five-years, pilot cities will not be able to create any new taxes.

Jones says he plans to go to Charleston City Council and then the Home Rule Board within the next few months to get approval for a .5 percent increase in the sales tax. That plus the elimination of the city’s B&O Manufacturing tax and a reduction in the B&O retail tax from .5 percent to .35 percent, would add up to $3.5 million per year to put toward a revamped civic center or ‘convention center’ as Jones would like to see it called.

“If we don’t do this [now], we won’t get it done. There won’t be any new civic center and we desperately need that as part of our tourism package,” stressed Jones.

Under the mayor’s plan, the bones of the current civic center would stay but a major renovation would take place. Molgaard says it would go farther than just the inside space.

“Obviously we need to address the exterior…it looks like a state prison,” Molgaard said.

The city manager says the civic center, originally the old Charleston Field House, has limitations, the major problem being space. It’s “land locked” between the Elk River, a parking garage, a hotel and the Town Center Mall. Molgaard says there is one way around that — up. He says the perfect place to do that is to build above the current back parking lot next to the Greyhound garage.

“What we really need is a 20-thousand square foot ballroom space,” Molgaard said. “There’s nothing like it in Charleston. [It would be] subdividable so that it’s state of the art. You can break it up into different meeting spaces.”

Molgaard says an additional 5,000 square feet in “break-out” space would also be included in that aspect of the project.

Jones says unless Charleston puts money into its civic center, it will lose convention business to places like Mobile, AL and Long Beach, CA that have state of the state-of-the-art convention centers. He says with a small increase in sales tax, Charleston can thrive as a convention destination.

“I can promise you, if we’re allowed to move forward with this, nobody will regret it!”

The current home rule pilot project runs out at the end of June.

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Comments

  • Woodchuck

    Tear it down. Who wants to go to a place when you have to struggle to find a parking space, pay for parking, pay more taxes, pay $5 for a hotdog.

    Build a new place out side of the city.

    Why build a place with tax dollars. The cost is 3x the normal cost because of the unions. Build a place with no tax dollars,.

  • Todd

    The civic center is worth saving. Instead of raising taxes the city should explore selling the naming rights. jones is a republican in name only. im surprised he is not raising the user tax again.

  • Smokey

    Just tear the place down and be done with it.

    • 1smartone

      Some of you guys scream brilliance!!!

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    I used to travel Charleston on many occasions for business. I was never impressed. The airport was built on a small footprint on top of a mountain. Like landing on an aircraft carrier. Ask a pilot and that is what they will tell you. The city blighted as was all gateways. About the only picturesque scene was the river flowing in front of UC. Our capital city is in decay. But I would have to agree. Tear down the civic center and get some new sponsor build another.

  • Dan

    I dont live in the city of Charleston, but I do believe this is a good investment for the city of Charleston. The Civic Center in its self is a destination point and brings a lot of money into the city which is spent at the mall, restuarants and other business. This is a no brainer at only a tax of .5%. I personally enjoy coming down to the Civic Center for the High School Basketball Tournaments which i stay for the entire week. This will also draw new events to the center.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Charleston is a shell of what it used to be as a city. Only Huntington has fallen harder & farther.

    The Civic Center is a real example of past its prime. Spend the $$$$ on the wrecking ball instead of trying to fix the place.

    I heard this same crap about Appapachian Power Park vs Watt Powell, then an economic development grant wasted $20 million to bail Charleston out.

    As for Jones, how does a guy in an office that only requires a 5% of the total voter electorate voting for him to win get so much attention?

    • Larry

      I agree, Power Park is nice, but there are very few people that attend those games, nobody cares about low class A baseball, I can assure you they are losing money there.

    • Charleston, WV

      Jim: It's mutually agreed that Charleston is a shell of what it used to be, and as I am sure you are aware we used to have some major corporations within our county that have for the most part moved or downsized there operations. My question to you regarding to our infrastructure (ie The Civic Center). Sure it is "past its prime"but it does have a great economic footprint for our area. My question to you is based on a cost/benefit analysis of a modernized Civic Center: Should we revamp it or tear it down and build a new one? Which would you prefer and why?

  • WVIRGINIAN FOR LIFE

    Typical Kanawha state politics. Everything begins and ends in the Great State of Kanawha. How about asking for a corporate sponsor like Cabelas, etc. I'm sure some corporation would like to have their name on it. Stop wasting state money. This is the year of eating a crap sand which and everyone gets to take a bite. So be creative and find some other type funding please.

  • nonewtax

    JFK and wvman have it right - people are taxed beyond their limits now and simply can't handle any more unless there are offsetting cuts somewhere else. JFK was right about large purchases such as car sales - the So Chas and St Albans dealers will love it. 1/2 of 1% on a $20,000 purchase is $100., which will buy a couple tanks of gas (at least for now.)

  • wvman75

    The answer Democrats have for dealing with any issue: Raise taxes.

    Hair falling out? Raise taxes.

    Kid not doing well in school? Raise taxes.

    Neighbors dog crapping on your lawn? Raise taxes.

    We citizens aren't ever paying enough to government according to liberals. What a bunch of buffoons. Just like the people who keep voting them into office.

    • GregG

      FYI, wvman75 King Danny "user fee" Jones is a REPUBLICAN!!!! I sure hope you don't vote.

    • al

      What might your answer be, Mr. Republican? Maybe we could shut down some of the hotels, gas stations, and even the airport because none of those people need jobs, right. We could shut down the mall too because those folks don't need jobs. You don't think about any of the people who would possibly loose jobs if there are no conventions in the city. You sir, are the buffoon. I would think a died in the wool republican like yourself would understand basic economics. Stop and think, for God's sake before you speek, buffoon.

      • Really?

        This answer typifies the mentality of local uneducated Democrats. "Loose" jobs? "Died" in the wool? "Speek"? Basic economics says you can't continue increasing taxes beyond people's ability to pay, and that's where the city, state, and country are heading.

    • Dave

      The Mayor is a Republican.

    • keeping it real

      Jones a democrat? Some folks use labels without thinking.....

  • jfk

    If the sales tax is implemented lets hope these conventions are not scheduled when it snows. when the user fee doubled the city roads were and are still covered with snow, unless you live in the South Hills or Edgewood areas.

    I think this would hurt new and used car sales or any large purchases in the city limits for that matter.

    I think we all are for improvements if done smartly.

  • WV Patriot

    The great state of Kanawha isn't the only place in the state that needs funding. You people in Charleston always think everything starts and ends in your city. Get Cabelas or some other corporate entity to sponsor the place and then you'll get the money.

  • Larry

    I say never, it's not needed.

    • Charleston, WV

      So we shouldn't reinvest in our infrastructure? And for what is your reason sir?

      • Larry

        I just believe it would be an injustice to people to charge them more taxes to fix up a building so you can have more car shows, monster trucks, and concerts, Charleston is not a major destination for big time conferences and I don't believe this "ballroom" is needed. If you were a choosing between the beach in California, the beach in Alabama, or Charleston WV, which would you pick?