Utah Performance Center

The Utah Performance Center on Main, located at 135 South Main, is part of Downtown Rising, an ambitious development vision that began in 2007 and will transform and invigorate the downtown area. It represents a $1.5 billion investment.

If you want to see what the entire scope of Downtown Rising is like, go towww.downtownrising.com. It includes a map showing the new theater’s location just a little north of Lamb’s Restaurant. City Creek Center is half a block north. The Utah Theater is right across the street. In addition, Abravanel Hall, the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Ballet West, Capital Theater, and the Gallivan Center are all close by. As an anchor for the Arts and Culture District, it would be difficult to find a better location. It should be noted that the theater’s name is a working title; it might get changed later.

This is land that used to be the territory of the The Salt Lake Tribune. Next door is the historic Kearns building, built by Senator Thomas Kearns in 1911 and extensively restored and renovated in 1991 by Hines Interests. The theater itself is going to be located on the old site of the Newspaper Agency Corporation printing presses, and a convenient, downtown TRAX line runs right past the front door.

The state-of-the-art theater itself will be big: 2,500 seats. It has to be that big because the goal is to attract the kind of first-run Broadway plays that have traditionally bypassed Salt Lake City because the existing theaters were too small and too old. It may also be used by Ballet West and the Utah Opera Company, as well as by musical and comedy acts.

Is money spent building a major theater also a smart investment? Yes: a large, beautiful theater would attract a great deal of business. The Downtown Theater Action Group, which consulted with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Utah to come up with some numbers, thinks the theater will generate $22 million per year. Of that amount, $3.3 million would come from out-of-state visitors.

The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) selected Garfield Traub Swisher Development (GTS) and Hamilton Partners to provide financing and team management for the Utah Performance Center. GTS/Hamilton Partners beat out Hines Interests because of involvement in a similar theater project, located in Durham, North Carolina, named the Durham Performing Arts Center. The Durham Performing Arts Center is the same kind of theater envisioned for Salt Lake City. For a look at the results in Durham, you should check out www.dpacnc.com. It has a glitzy and impressive photo tour.

Two architectural firms are drawing up plans: Moshe Safdie & Associates, an architectural firm located in Massachusetts, and VCBO Architects, which is a local firm. These two architectural firms are also responsible for Salt Lake City’s award-winning downtown public library.

Before the theater can be built, a property development plan has to be created so that the development costs can be estimated and the land purchased. (Purchasing the land shouldn’t be a problem. It is owned by Suburban Land Reserve and Property Reserve Inc., and RDA has an exclusive negotiations agreement with them; that agreement means the details may not have been settled, but no other sites are being considered for the theater and no other buyers are being considered for the land.) An extension for the exclusive negotiations agreement was granted in October 2009. Once a development plan is complete, along with estimates for the cost to build and own the theater, the RDA will come up with a financing plan. Creation of the architectural programming, design, and specifications will require at least a year. Actual construction should take about three years.


By Salt Lake Digs Contributor, Susan Morgan

Photo courtesy John W. Ballard www.ballardphotographix.com)

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.