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Sandy • With about as much drama between cities as one of its plays, Hale Centre Theatre settled on a new home for its future $65 million community theater expansion.
Despite multiple lucrative offers from West Valley City to stay at its current location, after 16 years at the location, Hale told the city to exit stage left as it entered into an agreement with Sandy on Monday.
"This is an exciting day for Sandy city and the residents," said Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan. "It fits into so many areas that we want to see Sandy become in the future."
Hale's board chairman Rob Brough said it chose Sandy for two main reasons: the site's visibility and how well Sandy's future plan fit around the theater's goals.
"At the end of the day, it came down to Sandy City is the place for us to be," Brough said.
In November, Sandy City accepted a purchase offer from Woodbury Corp. to buy 11.5 acres at 9950 Monroe Street with the intent to be Hale's future home just east of Interstate 15. The lease with West Valley City expires in 2016.
"I do not believe you can find 11 ½ acres along the freeway that is more prominent than this site," Dolan said at Sandy City Hall (10000 Centennial Parkway), overlooking the future site across the road.
The city council and the theater's board of trustees still must approve the deal.
Brough said the theater will immediately begin a campaign to raise money to get the project underway as soon as possible.
Hale representatives last week turned to the Utah Legislature for help with the expansion, asking members of the Business, Economic Development and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee for $2 million. The theater gets funding of $87,500 a year in a direct line item appropriation.
The new site will feature three performance spaces with a total of 1,800 seats, which is triple the size of its current space in West Valley City.
Since 2004, Hale has been operating near capacity and as a result turned thousands away each year. Hale Vice President Sally Dietlein said it has the largest community theater attendance by three times than the second-place theater in Hawaii. With all of its shows selling out, Hale began plans for an expanded facility and was talking to at least two cities about locating in their communities West Valley City, which bonded for funds in 1997 to help build the current venue at 3500 South and Interstate 215, and Sandy, which touted the prime visibility along Interstate 15 of its site.
In January, council members, sitting as the West Valley City Redevelopment Agency board, voted to buy 15 acres next to the theater for an expanded venue. The purchase agreement required the agency to pay a $100,000 nonrefundable deposit and set a 90-day escrow period.
But after months of negotiations, West Valley City cut off talks to get the center to renew its lease on its venue in the Decker Lake area and to build the second facility on an adjacent parcel.
West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle has said that even if Hale decides to expand somewhere else, West Valley would have other options for the property, including a commercial or mixed-use project.
He said Monday that no decision has been made on whether to go through with the purchase. West Valley officials are disappointed that Hale is leaving the community, but "we wish them well," Pyle said.