SANDY — The planned Broadway-style theater project in Sandy cleared a major hurdle Tuesday with the City Council.

City ordinances were successfully changed in a unanimous vote to allow the three planned towers of the Proscenium to reach up to 600 feet, with optional features such as parapets or wind turbines allowed on top.

The Holladay-based architect of the Proscenium, Russell Platt, requested the change.

As proposed, the 30- to 40-story Proscenium will dwarf nearby buildings such as Jordan Commons, which rises 10 floors, and City Hall, which has three floors.

Before Tuesday night, the city limited building height to 140 feet (10 stories).

"If ever there were a parcel in our city where something like this were appropriate to go, this would be it," Councilman Dennis Tenney said. "This is an opportunity to make us a signature city that will be a positive for the entire state of Utah."

The $500 million Proscenium development is expected to include 800,000 square feet of office space and 1.5 million square feet of retail, commercial and residential space. It will also include hotel space and an arts school, anchored by a 2,400-seat theater for first-run traveling Broadway shows.

The theater will be built inside the central business district, which stretches from about 9400 South to 10600 South and from State Street to I-15. That region has long been slated for tall buildings, said Sandy spokesman Nick Duerkson. In 1995, the first general plan for the district considered 20-story buildings.

"Overall ideology behind the civic center hasn't changed since the first plan," he said, calling the area a major source of identity for Sandy residents.

The change in code has been deliberated for months. A previous version, which would have allowed buildings of any height in the district, was rejected by the city council. The council then held a joint meeting with the planning commission to hammer out a new proposal.

Only a handful of residents have commented on the zone change, and most were in favor of it, Duerkson said. Those opposed were concerned about building height and increased traffic.

Under the new ordinances, the Proscenium will be subject to more lenient landscaping requirements and won't be required to blend in with surrounding structures or use masonry materials and earth tones. It will have to include public art, house a cultural venue and include at least one main pedestrian thoroughfare, among other things.

Sandy is so close to being built-out that the council will have to carefully review each future project, Councilman Bryant Anderson said.

Proscenium developers hope to break ground this fall for a data center that will be housed in the basement of the theater tower. The first phase of the complex could open by fall 2011 but other phases, such as the school, may have to wait until market conditions are favorable, the developers have said.

For more information, visit theprosceniumsandy.com.


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com