This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Ballet West has been looking for property in downtown Salt Lake City for a rehearsal studio for nearly a year. Executive Director Johann Jacobs says he needs six more months and may know in one month if a downtown spot is viable.
The potential for downtown depends on what happens in the next 30 days, Jacobs said Thursday, after the City Council agreed to give Ballet West more time to make a deal.
The city has a say because its Redevelopment Agency bought land for the ballet in Sugar House. The ballet commissioned drawings for that property and considers it an ideal location. But the Salt Lake Chamber, some of whose members help fund and run the ballet, want the ballet to be part of a downtown cultural block and thus the search for available - and inexpensive - downtown land.
Councilman Carlton Christensen had earlier warned that he wouldn't support extending the ballet's lease in Sugar House, but he voted to do that Thursday after being assured by ballet officials that they would find a new home within the six-month time frame.
Byron Russell is working on the cultural block for the chamber and said there are four possible downtown sites for the ballet, including at Arrow Press Square.
The hang up? Sellers want to sell it for more and buyers want to buy for less, Russell said.
The delay has hurt the ballet's fund raising, Jacobs said. The ballet has raised $12 million and wants $6 million more for the Sugar House site. If it picks a downtown site, it may need more or less, depending on the site. It's difficult to say, 'Give me money but I don't know where to spend it,' Jacobs said.
In other RDA action, the City Council agreed to move ahead on beautifying 300 South between 50 West and 200 West by adding a tree-lined sidewalk to the middle of the street while keeping the traffic lanes and middle-of-the-street parking stalls.
But because construction costs are skyrocketing, the bids for the expected $450,000 job may come in much higher.
If that's true, the council may decide to kill the project. The city expects to go out to bid in February and start construction in May.
The city's transportation office hopes the road work will encourage development of the now-vacant property at 300 South and West Temple. Long-time tenants like the Zephyr Club closed in 2003 after property owners David Bernolfo and Stephen Bamberger, didn't extend their leases. At the time, the owners said the buildings would be renovated and new tenants would be found. That hasn't happened.
Councilman Dave Buhler, who voted against the 300 South plan Thursday night, said he doubted the project would encourage development.