Will Sandy theater seek county funds?

By Rebecca Palmer
Deseret News
Published: August 20, 2008
Developers of the planned Broadway-style theater complex in Sandy have opened the door to possible Salt Lake County funding.

Private funds will almost certainly be sufficient to pay for the grand theater part of the project, Utah County-based Scott McQuarrie told the Salt Lake County Council during a presentation Tuesday. But there may be a funding gap for the performing arts school to be built next door.

"It's exciting, and it's a challenge at the same time with the lending market the way it is," he said later during an interview with the Deseret News. "We're getting more comfortable as time goes on. We can meet the banks' criteria, for now."

McQuarrie and his partners conceded in response to multiple questions from the council they might someday ask for public funds. The businessmen said they had no immediate plans to ask for subsidies but do want to keep it as an option.

Republican council members Jeff Allen and Mark Crockett said they would be unlikely to support county funding of the Sandy theater based on several statements Proscenium developers have made about going forward privately.

Other council members asked questions about the Sandy complex competing with another planned Broadway-style theater in downtown Salt Lake City.

If two theaters were built, the main beneficiaries would be touring companies who could pit the centers against one another, McQuarrie said.

Ground could be broken on the first phase of the Proscenium this fall, said Mark Hurst, who is handling marketing for the project. Thereafter, the grand theater and smaller theaters could be built below offices, a hotel and condominiums.

Within three years, the developers hope to add the performing arts school, which is planned to wrap around a parking garage behind the main 30- to 40-story tower.

In addition to the possibility of county funding, the Proscenium is considering private funding and selling naming rights for the school. The Music School in American Fork is expected to someday move into the Proscenium. The organization has an official relationship with the The Juilliard School.

E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com