Possible final act of Utah Pantages Theater turning into quite a drama


Casey McDonough, left, and Michael Valentine, proper, co-founders of the Associates of the Utah Pantages Theater, share public information they’ve collected relating to Utah Pantages Theater on Feb. 8. The group filed a lawsuit in opposition to Salt Lake Metropolis over the way forward for the theater on Thursday. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)

Estimated learn time: 7-8 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Pantages Theater, in its heyday, introduced in such comedy legends as Will Rogers, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

However the theater’s potential last act is popping into fairly a drama.

In one more flip within the authorized battle over the way forward for the century-old downtown constructing, which is slated to be knocked down later this 12 months, leaders of a bunch preventing to protect the theater are suing Salt Lake Metropolis and its redevelopment company over its 2019 settlement to promote the constructing.

The lawsuit was filed simply weeks after the developer that now owns the constructing filed a stalking injunction in opposition to one of many group’s founders, searching for to maintain him away from the constructing earlier than it is demolished later this 12 months.

Members of the group Associates of the Utah Pantages Theater filed the lawsuit in third District Courtroom on Thursday. The grievance facilities on town’s course of and resolution to switch the theater to the worldwide growth firm Hines for $0 in 2019. A spokesperson for Salt Lake Metropolis Mayor’s Workplace instructed KSL.com town is conscious of the lawsuit and metropolis attorneys are at the moment reviewing it.

The house owners of two native companies, Twisted Roots and Beckett & Robb, additionally joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs, stating the choice adversely affected them as a result of they had been pressured to shut and relocate their Foremost Road outlets after the switch of the constructing was finalized late final 12 months.

The plaintiffs are searching for a judgment that may void the 2019 settlement, citing violations of Utah code. For the reason that metropolis now not has management of the constructing, they’re additionally searching for an injunction that may forestall town from issuing permits that may permit Hines to demolish the constructing.

The contractor employed by Hines to tear down the constructing filed a demolition allow request final month. Their request continues to be pending assessment as of this week, based on metropolis information.

A consultant for Hines filed a stalking injunction in opposition to Michael Valentine — one of many founders of Associates of the Utah Pantages Theater — every week after the allow request was filed.

The paperwork filed in third District Courtroom exhibits the corporate is searching for to maintain Valentine away from the theater due to what they name “excessive threatening conduct.”

Valentine additionally made a court docket look Thursday to plead his aspect within the injunction. He instructed KSL.com that he believes that it is all an try and maintain him away from the theater earlier than it is torn down.

“It is a fairly baseless stalking injunction. … They’re attempting to maintain us away from this theater, away from this subject, away from the general public, and I believe (this) is only a continuation of that,” he stated every week after the injunction was filed.

He added later that he plans to file a counterclaim in opposition to Hines over the ordeal.

How we bought right here

Advocates for the century-old Utah Pantages Theater have squabbled with Salt Lake Metropolis over the destiny of the constructing for practically three years.

The Utah Pantages Theater opened in 1920 however it has been vacant for a while. Salt Lake Metropolis’s redevelopment company acquired the property for $5.5 million in 2010 and continued to publicly voice plans to protect the theater by a minimum of 2016; the data that the plaintiffs dug up in information requests exhibits how the temper had modified by 2018.

Town’s RDA wrote on an internet site that it estimates it will price between $40 million to $80 million to retrofit and restore the constructing, which is why it started to maneuver away from the thought of preserving it.

A part of the rivalry is the fee. The estimates from related theaters refurbished over the previous decade point out it could possibly be achieved for much less, Valentine says. A plan to revive the Pantages theater in Tacoma, Washington, launched in 2018, for instance, price rather less than $25 million, based on the Information Tribune.

House owners of the constructing may be eligible for state and federal tax credit towards restoration tasks if the constructing was listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations.

Then, in late 2019, town agreed to the cope with Hines for $0. The developer’s plans name for a 31-story, 368-foot high-rise on Foremost Road to switch the theater.

The lawsuit filed Thursday is the third lawsuit within the matter. Valentine and Casey McDonough, one other founding father of Associates of the Utah Pantages Theater, first filed a lawsuit in opposition to town over a failed poll measure. A choose sided with town however it has since been appealed to the Utah Supreme Courtroom.

The most recent case

What the plaintiffs argue within the new lawsuit is that town violated Utah legal guidelines in its strategy of handing over the constructing for demolition.

Whereas it is not on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, specialists from each Preservation Utah and the Utah State Preservation Workplace instructed metropolis officers that it both was or might have been eligible for that standing previous to the 2019 settlement, based on paperwork.

One state statute says redevelopment companies should undergo a sequence of processes earlier than shifting ahead with a plan as soon as a constructing is decided to be historic. Valentine says these procedures weren’t adopted, thus he believes the deal is illegitimate.

“We’re saying the theater must be transferred again to town and these processes must be adopted in an open and clear means,” he stated. “They by no means submitted the theater (for the historic document), they did not observe this code. They deny the theater was eligible proper up by November 2021 after we completed our utility and submitted the theater for the registry.”

Casey McDonough, left, and Michael Valentine, right, co-founders of the Friends of the Utah Pantages Theater, share contents from a binder of public records they've collected regarding Utah Pantages Theater. during an interview with KSL.com on Feb. 8. The group filed a lawsuit against Salt Lake City over the future of the Utah Pantages Theater on Thursday.
Casey McDonough, left, and Michael Valentine, proper, co-founders of the Associates of the Utah Pantages Theater, share contents from a binder of public information they’ve collected relating to Utah Pantages Theater. throughout an interview with KSL.com on Feb. 8. The group filed a lawsuit in opposition to Salt Lake Metropolis over the way forward for the Utah Pantages Theater on Thursday. (Photograph: Carter Williams, KSL)

Town’s RDA web site acknowledges that Utah State Historic Preservation Workplace was wanting into the matter final 12 months. In a single letter from the state preservation workplace dated Nov. 6, 2019, earlier than the $0 deal was introduced, a member from the preservation workplace wrote that there weren’t any ensures the theater would land on the register, however they wrote “it does have an opportunity and is definitely value attempting.”

In keeping with the RDA web site, town contends the workplace did not take up the problem itself till March 2021. Emails and different paperwork submitted as proof within the lawsuit present town’s Historic Landmark Fee acknowledged on Nov. 4, 2021, that there can be a state assembly concerning the constructing on Nov. 18. Town nonetheless had possession of the constructing on the time for the reason that settlement wasn’t finalized.

However a Hines lawyer despatched an e mail to the Utah State Preservation Workplace on Nov. 10, 2021 — the day the transaction was finalized — objecting to the nomination. Hines wrote that the constructing was “past restore and there may be not a financially viable use for restoration.”

And the matter apparently ended there.

Since metropolis officers say they’re nonetheless reviewing the lawsuit, they didn’t touch upon it. A spokesperson for Hines stated the corporate was unaware of the lawsuit.

Why care concerning the theater?

The brand new lawsuit can be seemingly not the final authorized matter to be filed within the courts. The group can be wanting into different potential missteps uncovered in public information paperwork, based on Valentine.

He and McDonough say they have been contained in the theater and seen its potential, which is why they’ve invested a lot time on the theater. Their final aim is to return it to its former glory. They view it as a singular constructing that they consider could be a public house residents would get pleasure from and a venue that brings individuals in for giant occasions.


It has been kind of a historic preservation second of speaking about these buildings in our metropolis. It has began a dialog, which is cool.

–Michael Valentine


On the identical time, they’re metropolis residents who proceed to query how the deal shook out. Valentine has an actual property background and says he is uncertain how any constructing — even an growing old theater — misplaced worth from $5.5 million in 2010 to $4 million 9 years later when the remainder of the neighborhood property values skyrocketed. That is even earlier than the $4 million was waved off.

The lawsuits, they defined, emerged after they stated they had been rebuffed by metropolis officers each time they tried to deliver up questions and start dialogues over the plan for the theater.

“If it was a personal developer and a personal developer exchanging property, making a deal, then we would not have any argument,” McDonough stated. “However we now have an RDA utilizing our tax {dollars} with metropolis property making a cope with this billion-dollar developer.”

Valentine and McDonough say that it is also been definitely worth the battle as a result of it is introduced preservation points to the forefront, which is why they do not foresee themselves giving up anytime quickly.

“It has been kind of a historic preservation second of speaking about these buildings in our metropolis,” Valentine provides. “It has began a dialog, which is cool.”

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