Concerns about The Leonardo as a viable use of the former Salt Lake City library has city leaders considering other options for the building.

Mayor Ralph Becker has instructed city staff to immediately begin exploring other possibilities for the building at 209 E. 500 South. The proposed arts, culture and science center is still an option — just not the only one.

Becker and members of the Salt Lake City Council are uneasy about the cost estimates and revenue projections in recently revised plans for The Leonardo.

The new proposal, sent to city officials last week, outlines scaled-back renovations that Leonardo officials say could be completed with the $10.2 million general-obligation bond approved by voters in 2003, which would allow the center to open in fall 2009.

"We believe this is the best plan for Library Square," Peter Giles, new executive director for The Leonardo, told the council during a work session Tuesday.

The bond requires the museum to find a matching $10 million in outside donations for programming, which has been secured, Giles said.

The council hasn't decided whether it will release the bond money. Council members and city officials say the new plan needs to be analyzed closely before any decisions are made.

"We want to be good partners," said Jill Remington Love, council chairwoman. "But we can't be left running the museum. Two years from now, if it's not viable ... you will come to us to bail you out. That's our fear."

The Leonardo previously had been facing a $5.5 million funding gap, one officials in February said they proposed to close by selling naming rights to the building. The June 1 deadline to obtain those funds was extended by the City Council to Aug. 1, but no donor or sponsor emerged.


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