Settling on a site for a Broadway-style theater in downtown Salt Lake City is taking a little longer than Bill Becker expected.
It's been more than two months since Becker was appointed by his brother, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, to spearhead the city's efforts to find the best possible site for a 2,500-seat theater.
The spotlight is now on three potential sites, Bill Becker said, though a decision likely is another few months away.
"I had been hopeful that we'd get this done earlier," he said. "I think a realistic guesstimate as to when we will get this done and be ready to roll out with a recommendation would be early July."
Bill Becker, a Tony Award-winning producer and experienced theater developer, owner and manager, has made the downtown project a full-time endeavor, volunteering his time and experience to help his brother.
About a dozen possible sites have been evaluated, he said, though three have "floated to the top."
Renovation of the historic Utah Theater at 148 S. Main remains a top option, Bill Becker said. Surrounding properties also would need to be acquired to make the project work, he said.
A previous bid to renovate the Utah Theater into a larger venue stalled in 2005 when an independent consultant said it would be too costly and cramming that many seats into the historic structure would be impractical.
"I think those problems could be resolved by expanding the site slightly," Bill Becker said.
Another option is the former Newspaper Agency Corp. press site on Regent Street, property that city officials say is the appropriate size for such a theater. The construction of City Creek Center just north of the NAC site makes it an attractive option, Mayor Becker said.
"(City Creek Center) obviously would be a real kick start for what could happen along Regent Street," the mayor told the Deseret News editorial board this week.
Plans for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' $1.5 billion development call for Regent Street north of 100 South to be lined with restaurants. City leaders want to see walkable development extend along the portion of Regent Street between 100 South and 200 South, encouraging pedestrian traffic between City Creek Center and the Gallivan Center.
The third of the leading sites is the parking lot on the southwest corner of 300 South and West Temple, across the street from the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.
Cost estimates for the sites have not been determined, city officials said. The Salt Lake City Council, acting as the city's Redevelopment Agency board of directors, this week said it would support the use of $7,500 to pay for a theater specialist to determine those costs.
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."It's hard for me to imagine two," Mayor Becker said. "Sandy is going to do what it believes it should do and can do for Sandy, but we are going full-steam ahead here."
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