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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Regent Street between 200 South and 100 South.

From housing in the former Salt Lake Tribune building to a new home for the Salt Lake Art Center, the Downtown Alliance is circulating maps and artistic renderings of its vision of a "cultural district" in downtown Salt Lake City.

The plans hinge on the announcement of the site of a Broadway-style theater, still a month away.

The Downtown Alliance, which is part of the Salt Lake Chamber, in recent weeks has presented its plans for Blocks 69 and 70, which run from West Temple to State Street and 100 South and 200 South. The plans are the result of a year-long study by Prescott Muir Architects.

The cultural district could generate $600 million in new development, Downtown Alliance Executive Director Bob Farrington said.

Among the alliance's suggested locations for the Broadway-style theater are the historic Utah Theatre, at 148 S. Main; the headquarters of the former Newspaper Agency Corp., 157 S. Regent St.; a parking lot across from the Rose Wagner Center at 138 W. 300 South; and several downtown parcels owned by Earl Holding, owner of Sinclair Oil, Little America hotels and Idaho's Sun Valley resort.

There are "probably 12 different sites that we've been looking at," said Bill Becker, head of a committee that is studying potential theater sites.

Becker said that he's spoken to all property owners, and most seem responsive.

"Ultimately, the responsibility to make the decision is going to be the city's responsibility," he said. "The committee's going to make a recommendation."

Becker expects an announcement sometime in May.

If the Utah Theatre is chosen as the site for the Broadway-style theater, building owner Rick Howa said he would sell the building "to the city, and they would put it out for bid like they normally do for city and county projects."

If another site is chosen for the Broadway-style theater, Howa will consider office, retail and hotel options for the building.

"A Broadway house downtown Salt Lake City brings a lot of economic development, more hotels, more tourists, transportation, restaurants," Howa said.

The Deseret News has owned the Newspaper Agency Corp. building since the end of 2007, during a property and cash swap with the Salt Lake Tribune, News publisher Jim Wall said. The two newspapers have joint advertising, printing and distribution through the NAC, now called MediaOne and located in West Valley City.

If the NAC property doesn't become a Broadway-style theater, the Downtown Alliance is eyeing the property for a smaller blackbox theater, said Wall, a member of the Downtown Theater Action Group. Parking structures along Regent Street would be convenient for theatergoers.

"But that property, actually if it's going to be developed, would probably be a private developer," Wall said. "We will not own it for long. We probably would deed it to one of the property companies that the (LDS Church) has; because they're our owner, essentially what's ours is theirs. We'd have to do it in a way to meet all the IRS and business rules."

According to plans for the cultural district, the former Salt Lake Tribune building could be turned into housing. The Tribune left its Main Street property for The Gateway in May 2005.

The Tribune's publisher Dean Singleton said Wednesday that he's holding on to the building for now.

"It is currently not up for sale," he said. "We have been waiting to see what the downtown development looks like on that block, and we will explore the best use for the building, as we see a little more planning downtown."

The Salt Lake Art Center is currently housed in the Salt Palace. The cultural-district plans show a new location, in the bottom of a new building at Regent Street and 200 South where a parking lot is currently located. Housing would occupy the top.

Private developers, meanwhile, are currently working on plans for a Broadway-style theater in Sandy near City Hall.

The 2,400-seat Proscenium in Sandy will be part of a multi-million dollar development by Scott McQuarrie of Orem. But the city is struggling to find a company to operate the theater.

The city asked for proposals Feb. 19, with a mid-March deadline. Since the city hasn't seen any proposals, it has decided to keep the "request for proposals" open indefinitely. This will allow Sandy to seek out companies, city spokeswoman Trina Duerkson said.

The lack of proposals may delay the project, which is supposed to be completed by fall 2011.

Contributing: Rebecca Palmer.

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