SANDY — The Proscenium development is moving forward with plans for a small sales office, but the master developer said a theater, if built, could be just big enough for regional plays and events.

Scott McQuarrie's change in plans could spell the end of the race between Sandy and Utah's capital for Utah's first theater capable of hosting first-run traveling shows.

When asked directly whether a Broadway roadhouse theater was still in the plans, Orem-based McQuarrie said, "Yes and no."

"We're still looking to see what it ultimately is, if it's just for the community or something," he said after a long pause. "We would hope that it's at least what the county is suggesting with its regional Cultural Facilities Master Plan."

Plans for the Proscenium were first aired about a year ago, before credit markets tumbled in late 2008. The original plans called for three towers, one reaching at least 30 stories into the suburban sky. At the base of the main tower was to be a 2,400-seat theater capable of hosting traveling Broadway shows.

The 10-acre complex also was planned to include an arts school, a black-box theater, condos, a hotel, and an open-air spa and pool somewhere near the 15th floor.

"It's a tough world out there," McQuarrie said. "Hopefully we'll get a couple of sales and move forward. We're also looking for a little bit of office and retail in first phase, plus condo space, a senior housing facility and apartments."

In contrast, Salt Lake City is moving forward with plans for its $81 million theater.

The city's Redevelopment Agency received proposals from two developers interested in building a theater in the old Newspaper Agency Corp. building between Main Street and State Street near 100 South.

"We're still full speed ahead on trying to select a development partner," said RDA Executive Director D.J. Baxter.

The RDA has assembled a selection committee and could pick a developer early next month.

One proposal came from the Hines Co., the international real-estate firm that owns the Kearns Building in downtown Salt Lake City and has been involved in developing the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the New World Symphony in Miami.

The other proposal came from a team of developers and architects Steve Crane and Moshe Safdie, who worked together on Salt Lake's award-winning Main Library.

Sandy is locked into a redevelopment agency funding system that was put in place long before Proscenium plans were publicized. The city first planned to manage the Broadway-style theater but will now use tax-increment funding in a more traditional way for things such as infrastructure, said Sandy Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Scott Bond.

Sandy continues to support McQuarrie's Proscenium, Bond said. Plans are never set in stone until building permits are issued and master development agreements are signed, he said. And that hasn't been done for the Proscenium.

City agreements allowing the 30-story to 40-story height are still in place, as are other general plans approved by the Sandy Planning Commission last year.

"We think that a project over there would be a great project and we're working with them to see what they can put together," Bond said.

Thursday night, the Sandy Planning Commission approved the site plan for a temporary sales office. The three-story model home will be placed on top of a landscaped parking garage near 10100 South Centennial Parkway.

The building could go up as soon as August, said project architect Russell Platt. The structure could stand for three years.

"It's exciting to see something moving; I hope it works out," Planning Commission Chairman Joseph Baker told Platt. "We just don't want to end up with something that we didn't approve and we don't like the way it's going."

Contributing: Aaron Falk

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