By Jed Boal, KSL 5
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake’s new performing arts center is taking shape this summer right in the heart of Main Street. Broadway tour productions and other performances are still more than a year away. But the project manager showed off the progress on the The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Theater Wednesday.
Construction workers have reached reached the halfway point, and city and county leaders gave the media a look inside. The first curtain won’t go up until the fall of 2016, but the shell of the theater gives onlookers an idea what the building will look like when it is completed.
Students at Neumont University next door to the theater have watched the progress. They’re eager to see the finished project.
“It’s really beautiful,” said Florence Hernandez, student body president of Neumont University. “People have worked so hard on this building. Lots of thought has been put into this. It’s going to be revolutionary.”
When the Eccles Theater opens in fall 2016, it will stage Broadway shows, national musical performances and other performing arts. The concrete walls and towers went up first.
“Basically, all of the steel is done,” said Steve Swisher, project manager and principal at Garfield, Traub, Swisher Development. “The next step is to get the roof on, which we have done in almost all of the places.”
Inside, the main theater is taking shape. It has 2,500 seats with three balconies. The atmosphere was created to simulate a Utah canyon at night. The theater is designed to handle the large Broadway productions that previously have passed by Salt Lake City.
“This can handle those big, touring Broadway productions where you can bring in the stage, glitz and glamour that make the production real,” said Ben McAdams, Salt Lake County mayor.
Behind the theater, Regent Street will is being developed as a haven for artists, shops and cafes.
“The interior of the theater is going to be a wonderful space. But how it connects with the city all around it is just amazing,” said Swisher. “No other theater in the country will be as connected as this one is with the rest of its city.”
With patrons downtown each night, the theater is a key piece of revitalization.
“We’re going to create in the heart of our city a whole new level of activity and opportunity,” said Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City mayor.
The center has a construction budget of $116 million. No new taxes are needed, because funding came from private donations, existing revenue and new development.
The first performance is slated for late September, and the first Broadway tour production show about a month later, and the Disney musical “The Lion King” will be staged in the spring of 2017.