Growing up in Salt Lake City, Councilman Van Turner spent plenty of Saturdays at the old Utah Theater, watching films for a quarter a show.

And if all goes to plan, he could be back at the shuttered theater some Saturday.

Tuesday, the Salt Lake City Council, acting as the city's Redevelopment Agency, approved a $7 million plan to purchase the property at 144 S. Main and 156 S. Main.

The space is opposite the site of the city's planned Broadway-style theater, and officials hope the Utah Theater will be a major piece in the city's arts district.

"We'll be the capital city again on Main Street," Turner said. "People will come."

But first, the city needs a little cash to complete the deal.

The city has negotiated the basic terms of the purchase and now has 150 days to complete the deal. In that time, the RDA will be seeking out a $10 million revolving line of credit to fund the purchase and other acquisitions and demolitions in the Central Business District.

RDA leaders will soon put out a request for proposals, hoping to land a loan at a 1 percent interest rate with no principal payments due until 2015.

"We're doing this within a blighted project area, and banks can get (Community Reinvestment Act) credits for it," said RDA deputy director Valda Tarbet, "and there may be some other reasons that local lenders would be willing to offer these favorable terms to the agency."

Once a "jewel of Main Street," the Utah Theater site has been out of operation since the 1980s. It needs serious renovations before it's operational. One estimate put that cost somewhere around $25 million.

Progress with the theater came as welcome news to the Downtown Alliance.

"A film center is central to downtown's cultural corridor," executive director Jason Mathis said in a statement. "The Utah Theater has languished for many years, and now there is movement and a clear plan going forward as part of a larger vision for Main Street. This is great news."

The purchase would help "leverage other downtown development," he said.

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