In plot twist, preservationists sue Salt Lake City to save the Utah Theater


They accuse leaders of violating state regulation, search to maintain downtown venue from being torn down.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file picture) The growing old Utah Theater on Primary Road exhibits its put on on Dec. 3, 2019. A brand new lawsuit has been filed looking for to stop the theater from being demolished.

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Supporters of the historic Utah Theater are suing Salt Lake Metropolis and its Redevelopment Company in one other try to stop the downtown relic from being razed.

Invoking the century-old venue’s title of yore, a gaggle referred to as Pals of the Utah Pantages Cinematic Theatre joined two metropolis residents and two enterprise homeowners within the grievance filed Thursday in third District Court docket, making an attempt to invalidate the town’s sale of the positioning to builders desirous to erect a residential skyscraper there.

Historic preservationists, movie buffs and different residents allege metropolis officers didn’t adjust to Utah regulation requiring a extra thorough examine and studies to state officers earlier than they offered the disused property at 144 S. Primary to developer Hines final yr.

This newest authorized motion asks a decide to overturn the deal whereas additionally looking for to stop the town from issuing any permits for tearing down the playhouse.

As a result of the run-down efficiency corridor’s eligibility for a list on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations and since metropolis officers put public funds towards razing or rehabilitating it, the go well with states, the town and its RDA had been legally required below state code to evaluate and disclose the potential unfavourable results of their plans to the State Historic Preservation Workplace.

“On condition that the customer [Hines] intends to demolish the theater in an effort to change it with luxurious residences,” says the 12-page go well with, “it’s undisputed that the enterprise could have an antagonistic impact on the theater, which is a historic property.”

“We really feel it’s a robust case,” co-plaintiff Casey McDonough stated Friday.

(Salt Lake Metropolis, by way of Trendy Out West) Primary auditorium and to-be-salvaged chandelier. Earlier than demolition, the once-majestic Utah Theater on Salt Lake Metropolis’s Primary Road — a dilapidated and vacant performing arts corridor as soon as generally known as Pantages Theater — is being documented in an unlimited digital archive, hosted by J. Willard Marriott Library on the College of Utah.

A metropolis spokesperson stated attorneys had been reviewing the submitting and declined additional remark. A spokesperson for the town’s RDA didn’t instantly reply Friday to requests for remark.

Becoming a member of McDonough as plaintiffs are resident Michael Patton and Ibrahim Fall, proprietor of Twist Roots, and Derek Bleazard, proprietor of Beckett & Robb. The 2 stores rented ground-floor areas in properties adjoining to the theater however have since seen their leases terminated by Hines and been compelled to relocate.

Public outcry has flared intermittently ever for the reason that theater’s sale was inked in late 2019 by then-Mayor Jackie Biskupski within the final weeks of her administration.

Her successor, Mayor Erin Mendenhall, has since defended the deal and the Metropolis Council’s ensuing and agonized choice to approve it and to not spend tens of tens of millions of {dollars} renovating the theater. They backed promoting the positioning for redevelopment, after a number of publicly funded research confirmed reusing it wasn’t economically viable.

The RDA, the town’s fundamental actor on the deal, transferred possession of the theater valued at $4 million to Houston-based Hines and Salt Lake Metropolis-based 160 Primary LLC in November for zero {dollars}, in alternate for Hines together with inexpensive residences, a pocket park and different facilities within the venture.

(Courtesy of Hines/Dwell Design Studios, by way of Salt Lake Metropolis Planning Division) International developer Hines has filed plans to construct a 31-story house complicated on the former web site of Utah Theater on Salt Lake Metropolis’s Primary Road. The tower at 150 S. Primary, to be referred to as Primary Road Residences, will embody extra 400 residences and stand 392 toes tall, preliminary plans present. (Jan. 12, 2021)

Hines is now pursuing plans to construct a 31-story luxurious tower dubbed 150 Primary Road the place the deteriorated theater now sits. Its plans with the town additionally embody salvaging and repurposing key options of the neoclassical constructing, which the town purchased in 2010.

The identical group now suing to protect the Utah Theater has fought metropolis and RDA officers at virtually each step of their plans.

Patton, who additionally makes use of the final title Valentine, chained himself to the theater’s entrance doorways one sizzling day final June as a part of a marketing campaign decrying the town’s actions.

He and others level to a number of different neoclassical theaters throughout the nation, additionally constructed by Alexander Pantages, which were restored to their full historic glory — a prospect metropolis leaders deemed too expensive.

An software to checklist the theater on the historic register drew an endorsement from the town’s personal Historic Landmark Fee in November. That request is now pending earlier than the Nationwide Park Service — though Hines, because the property’s proprietor, has authorized energy to dam it.