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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
On Wednesday, people walk past the old Mr. Mac building, 135 S. Main. Salt Lake City is planning to build a new theater on the site.

Broadway is coming to Regent Street.

The Deseret News has learned that Salt Lake City plans to build a 2,400-seat theater capable of hosting first-run touring Broadway shows on the former Newspaper Agency Corp. press site on Regent Street between 100 South and 200 South.

Mayor Ralph Becker has scheduled a press conference for 1:30 p.m. today to announce the future theater's location. Several local dignitaries will join Becker for the formal announcement, including Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and H. David Burton, presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity indicated that the former NAC site has been chosen from the short list of six potential sites announced in July. The property is owned by the LDS Church, which acquired the land from the Deseret News in June for roughly $3 million.

The site has been a favorite of the mayor's brother, Bill Becker, a Tony Award-winning producer, an experienced theater developer, owner and manager, and chairman of the Downtown Theater Action Group.

One advantage of the NAC site, Bill Becker has said, is its ability to have entrances on both Main and Regent streets. The property includes the old Mr. Mac building at 135 S. Main.

Now that a site for a downtown theater has been selected, city officials will begin putting together financing for the project, a process that could take nine to 10 months — depending on involvement of the state and Salt Lake County.

It's expected that it will be at least three years before the theater could be up and running.

If it follows that timeline, the downtown theater would open roughly the same time as City Creek Center, the 20-acre development of the LDS Church.

The $1.5 billion residential, retail and office project calls for Regent Street to be extended to the north side of 100 South and be lined with restaurants when complete in 2012. The potential for Regent Street to become a pedestrian link between City Creek Center and the Gallivan Center also has been cited as an advantage of the former NAC site.

The cost estimate for the theater announced in July was $81.5 million — including the price of land and factoring in increasing construction costs.

Bill Becker has said the project likely would qualify for assistance from the federal New Market Tax Credit program because it's located in a qualified low-income community as calculated by the area's poverty rate and median income.

The Downtown Theater Action Group also recommended that Salt Lake City create a community development area, which would allow the city to return property taxes to the project. It's anticipated that additional funding will need to come from the city, county, state and private donors.

Salt Lake City is in an unofficial race with Sandy to bring a Broadway-style theater to the valley. Private developers are working with the suburban city to build a 2,400-seat theater to anchor the $500 million Proscenium, a 12-acre mixed-use development at approximately 10000 South.

Leaders from both cities have said the Salt Lake Valley can only support one such theater.


E-mail: jpage@desnews.com