Demolition underway for downtown performing arts center

Published: Monday, Feb. 10 2014 2:58 p.m. MST

Demolition crews started tearing down several buildings near 135 S. Main Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, to make way for the new Utah Performing Arts Center. The facility is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Demolition crews are tearing down several buildings on Main Street to make way for the new state-of-the-art theater in Salt Lake City.

"It's time to get this show on the road," said Alan Rindlisbacher with Layton Construction Company.

Artist’s renderings of the Utah Performing Arts Center depict a beautiful wall of windows looking out onto Main Street. It's a place where many will be able to enjoy shows and musical performances. But, that's more than two years away. Long before the curtain goes up, the old buildings must come down.

"It's our time to perform right now," Rindlisbacher said of the construction workers.

Preparation work began in August and crews have been demolishing on the east side of the block for a couple of weeks. Now the public can start to see progress.

They will take out three buildings to the north of Neumont University. An office tower on the corner of 100 South will integrate with the center. Demolition will last three or four months, and then excavation can begin.

"There will be mass excavation," said Rindlisbacher. "We've got to dig the hole. We've got to do the utilities. It's going to be another year before we start to see the steel come out of the ground."

The Utah Performing Arts Center (also called The New Performing Arts Center) on 135 S. Main Street will include a 2,500-seat theater that will stage major Broadway shows. The Capitol Theatre and Kingsbury Hall each have a seating capacity of around 1,900. Because of the low seating capacity, many blockbuster Broadway productions, such as “The Lion King” and “Wicked,” often appear later in Salt Lake City than in other cities, according to the New Performing Arts Center website. In addition, both venues have challenging load-in, lobby, backstage, seating, parking and concessions logistics for larger touring shows.

It is also expected to attract other national music, performing arts, comedy and family entertainment.

The center has a construction budget of $114 million. No new taxes are needed. Funding comes from private donations, existing revenue and new development.

The facility will be operated by the county's Center for the Arts, which also owns and operates Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

The Utah Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open to the public by the spring of 2016.

"It will change the face of downtown Salt Lake," Rindlisbacher said.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com

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