La Belle Helene
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Cain Center for the Arts Unveils First Finalized Renderings

Construction on Cornelius venue to start in 2021

The team at Cain Center for the Arts unveiled new renderings of the facility’s completed designs during a virtual event today, bringing the town of Cornelius one step closer to seeing its new multimillion-dollar venue, gallery and educational center come to fruition. The center near Lake Norman will be the anchor for the north-Mecklenburg town’s new arts district, which has been in the works since 2013. 

The new renderings depict different views of the building’s exterior and a look at the lobby. While conceptual designs have been released in the past, these renderings are the first look at the final design. The center will include a 400-seat theater, a gallery space, event spaces, classrooms, a community green space and an outdoor plaza. 

Today’s unveiling was the first in a series of virtual events set to last into June, in which the Cain Center team will continue to release renderings of the center’s interior education spaces, art gallery and theater. They will unveil renderings of the classrooms on May 26 at noon, followed by the theater and gallery on June 2 at noon, all of which will be available on the Cain Center’s YouTube channel and other social media channels. 

For Cain Center executive director Justin Dionne, the completion of the center will mean more for Lake Norman residents than just a place to go for a show and art. 

“We want to add and enhance and accentuate the culture of what it means to be here in the Lake Norman area, and here in this Metrolina region of the piedmont,” Dionne told Queen City Nerve. “Sure, on the base level, will this give people less of a commute to get to see an artistic performance? Yeah, that’s the skin deep, if you will. But deeper than that, our goal is to create a place where people can really enjoy community, they can grow community.” 

Funding the Future of the Arts in Cornelius

In 2013, the Cornelius Town Council voted to allocate $4 million out of a $20-million municipal bond to create an arts district, and in 2017 purchased the 1.85 acres where Cain Center for the Arts will be built at the intersection of Catawba Avenue and Milling Way, next door to the Cornelius Town Hall and near N.C. Highway 115. 

In 2018, the Cain Center board of directors and leadership launched the quiet phase of a $25 million campaign. A $5 million gift from local philanthropists Ericka and Bill Cain led to the center’s permanent name. As of now, the campaign has currently raised just shy of $16 million toward the $25-million goal. 

While the COVID-19 crisis has caused some concerns for the team behind the Cain Center, Dionne insisted that he is confident they can overcome any obstacles that may arise because of the pandemic. They had originally scheduled the demolition of the existing buildings on the property for this month but have put that off to later this year so they can invite people out and make it a celebration. 

Dionne said that, though the timeline is liable to change, he expects construction to start in the third quarter of 2021 and finish in late 2022 or early 2023. 

“I think this will add to this excitement that’s already swirling around up here,” Dionne said. “There’s been an energy up here for the past 10-15 years of a lot of growth and development. There’s nothing against Uptown and Charlotte, we love Uptown, too, but to get to have this up here will be a great asset for the people who live here, and something for them to be proud of, too.” 

The western exterior
The western exterior of the Cain Center.
The northeast exterior at dusk near Lake Norman
The northeast exterior at dusk.
Another northeastern view near Lake Norman
Another northeastern view.
The Cain Center lobby
The lobby of the Cain Center.
The southeastern aerial view
The southeastern aerial view.

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