Doug Smith is required reading in Charlotte. Despite all the rah-rah — or maybe because of it — Smith is clued into just where the money is going in Charlotte. And it ain’t good.

Recall the Carolina Theater saga. All 20 years of city ownership of it. When we last left it in late 2005, it looked like the city had finally pawned off the mess on Atlanta developer Camden Management Partners. For $7.3 million in subsidy, though.

The city agreed to sell the $2.8 million site to Camden for $1 million, then pledged to put the $1 million to work renovating the theater. Tally: $2.8 million handout to the developer. Plus the city agreed to plug $4.5 million in future property tax revenue from the project back into the project — a form of “synthetic TIF.” That’s code for, “The money ain’t goin’ in the General Fund, it’s staying Uptown.”

Try designating how your property taxes are spent some time. Anyway, I digress.

The money would help subsidize arts performances at the 1400-seat theater. Or as Smith put it the other day:

The city has agreed to help the developers and theater operator Ark Management with arts programming through annual grants based on the project’s property taxes.

That was the original plan for a project that was supposed to be underway by now. Unfortunately for the planners, a condo oversupply Uptown has zapped the original market for the project. There is a 29-month supply of condos according to one industry trend-watcher.

Faced with that market, developer Camden ditched the 125-unit plan and is now pitching a 20-unit project. Accordingly, the price-point has swung from the $300s to $1.7 million to $5 million.

The rationale for this approach seems to be based primarily on a wing-and-prayer and some evidence that there is an ultra-luxo market for condos in Charlotte that is totally divorced from reality.

The project is now going by the name of the Encore, which also describes the city’s plans for the Carolina Theater. We are essentially back at square one. The city is working with a developer who manifestly does not have the capital to proceed or would have by now.

As bad as the last plan was, now the city council will seriously contemplate taking the property tax dollars of people living in $5 million condos and using the money to put on shows downstairs in their building. Not hire police or firemen or build roads — put on shows in the millionaire condo building.

You cannot make this stuff up. And, as always, it will happen without a peep.