|Two firms bid on Broadway-class theater|
|Culture » Library architect Moshe Safdie among list of heavyweights seeking downtown project.|
By Derek P. Jensen
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
|Updated:05/28/2009 10:03:51 PM MDT|
Moshe Safdie may get another chance to put his design stamp on downtown Salt Lake City.
The famed architect, whose vision led to the capital's striking Main Library, is among two development groups that have petitioned to build the $81.5 million Broadway-class theater pitched by Mayor Ralph Becker for 135 S. Main.
The Safdie team bid includes Salt Lake City library architectural firm VCBO and contractor Okland Construction along with developers Swisher, Garfield, Traub and Hamilton Partners, which is building a new office tower at 222 S. Main.
The other party to respond to the city's theater request is Hines Interests, said D.J. Baxter, executive director of the city's Redevelopment Agency. According to its Web site, Hines is an international real estate firm with a presence in more than 100 cities. Hines also owns the Kearns Building on Main Street.
"To have that caliber speaks very well of Salt Lake City," said City Councilman Eric Jergensen. "I'm excited. You've got nationally known developers with financial firepower as well as a group of local architects that have shown their design finesse with the library."
Baxter, who says Safdie's name "was a surprise to me," notes upfront costs for design plans and renderings would be borne by the developers. A selection between the two groups will be made soon, he said, based on the respective firms' qualifications.
Becker says a community-based selection committee will be formed to evaluate the would-be Broadway theater builders. And he praised both parties for their "expertise and experience."
Becker was unaware Safdie was among the final respondents.
Safdie made headlines earlier this week by declaring his opposition to building a police headquarters on the east end of the cultural block known as Library Square. That is the "preferred" location for Becker, who also is weighing the east side of 300 East for a $125 million police complex.
Even though the timing may be awkward, Jergensen says Safdie's stance on Library Square and his bid for the Broadway-style theater are "totally unrelated."
A 2,400-seat Broadway-style playhouse has been a pet project for Becker, who enlisted his Tony Award-winning producer/brother to work for free to find a workable downtown location. The theater, just a short stroll from the LDS Church's 20-acre City Creek Center, would piggyback off that "lifestyle center" for funding by using a portion of City Creek sales taxes to finance construction and operation.
The financial blueprint, which includes federal tax credits, would require a so-called Community Development Area, including buy-in from Salt Lake County and the state.
City officials say the plan would provide extra cash for arts agencies statewide, but many still oppose the mega-theater idea.
Suburban Sandy also is pursuing plans for a large playhouse.