|Theater search down to 3 sites|
|2 buildings on Main and lot east of Squatters are finalists|
|By Derek P. Jensen|
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
|Article Last Updated:05/07/2008 09:00:33 PM MDT|
|Posted: 9:01 PM- The hunt for a Broadway-class theater in downtown Salt Lake City has been narrowed to three sites, though a decision on the location has been bumped to early July.
A volunteer team of specialists says Main Street's Utah Theater and the former Newspaper Agency Corp. (NAC) building are prospects along with the parking lot east of Squatters Pub Brewery across from the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
"It seems the direction we're going are those three sites," said Bill Becker, the Tony Award-winning brother of capital Mayor Ralph Becker who is working pro bono to find a theater site.
To aid the effort, the city's Redevelopment Agency agreed this week to spend $7,500 for a Chicago-based architect, who will assist on cost analysis and configuration for the theater.
But Bill Becker cautioned the "rigorous" process to identify costs could take time.
"We want our recommendation to be realistic and financially feasible," he said. "It has to be done in a way that doesn't negatively impact existing arts organizations."
Becker says the shuttered Utah Theater itself is "a little small," but notes a Broadway-style playhouse is possible there if some surrounding property is included.
The historic theater and the NAC building across the street both front Main between 100 South and 200 South.
A new cultural-district master plan contemplates shops, lofts and restaurants on a refurbished Regent Street just east of Main as well as condos in the old Salt Lake Tribune tower adjacent to the NAC building.
A theater on 300 South by Squatters could feed off the street traffic from Rose Wagner and a row of nearby restaurants.
Becker says a 2,000-seat-plus venue on the plaza near Abravanel Hall - or on the south end of the Salt Palace Convention Center - would be problematic due to parking and access questions.
As the capital search solidifies, Sandy's Broadway march moves on. An Orem-based developer recently unveiled plans for a $50 million theater southwest of City Hall as part of a $500 million commercial project, complete with restaurants, offices and condo towers.
Insiders, including Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan, acknowledge that only one Broadway roadhouse along the Wasatch Front could succeed.
Salt Lake County is crafting a cultural-facilities master plan - due out late this summer - that is designed to determine the best locale for a big theater.
Meantime, the architect slated to get the RDA money to help locate an urban hot spot is Dan Coffey, who worked on a 2005 Utah Theater analysis. Becker says Coffey is the "logical guy" to do the technical work.