WEST VALLEY CITY — The Hale Centre Theater appears to be leaning toward leaving West Valley City and moving to Sandy after negotiations with the city about expanding in the Decker Lake area have been halted.
The theater's current lease with the city expires in 2016. In the letter sent out last week, Mayor Mike Winder said the city has a responsibility to begin negotiating with other companies interested in the property located near the Maverik Center beyond 2016.
“West Valley City has presented the best case we could for attracting you to expand here, unfortunately the case was not sufficiently persuasive,” the letter states. “Because we as city leaders must plan for the theater and Decker Lakes’ future as well, we are now ending further negotiation … outside the terms of our current lease structure.”
Over the past two months, the city had offered several incentives to convince the theater to stay, including a discounted lease through 2028, additional city bonds and 15 available acres adjacent to the current site.
West Valley City officials told KSL the reason they stopped negotiations was not to bar all possibility of the business staying, but to inform the Hale Centre Theatre that those offers were final.
But Winder said he was skeptical that the theater will stay.
“We’ve offered some concrete things to encourage them to stay,” Winder said. “Ultimately, we’re just not so sure we’re their preference.”
Hale Centre Theatre board members have also been extensively negotiating with Sandy for several months about possibly relocating there. Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said a deal is likely, but noted the city is busy negotiating financial terms with the theater before any agreement can be finalized.
“We’ve decided to keep lawyers out of it for now and have informal talks face to face,” Dolan said. “We’ll come to an agreement in the end.”
Sandy has offered the theater 11.5 acres near 9950 S Monroe Street, close to 10000 South and I-15. The theater currently has an audience capacity of 613, but wants to build two new stages and roughly triple that capacity. In 2012, the theater hosted more than 255,000 guests during more than 400 performances — numbers that Trustee Board Chairman Rob Brough said are unsustainable in the current building.
“Our main issue is capacity, and it’s a great problem to have,” Brough said. “But at some point we had to engage in a discussion about, ‘where do we take our future?’”
Brough insisted the board hasn't made any decision, despite strong hints from both mayors about the likely outcome.
We've offered some concrete things to encourage them to stay. Ultimately, we're just not so sure we're their preference.
“From our position, we haven’t closed any doors or made any final decisions, and we don’t want it to appear that way,” Brough said. “This is arguably the most important decision the board will ever make.”
Dolan said Sandy is trying to be as transparent as possible and has even been in contact with West Valley City about the possible relocation.
“We’re trying to keep everything above board,” Dolan said.
According to West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle, there are no ill feelings toward the Hale Centre Theatre or the city of Sandy. He said West Valley City has made every reasonable offer to keep the business and has no regrets.
“Any kind of economic development (negotiation) has its breakdowns and difficulties,” Pyle said. “We’ve been clear about what we’ve been willing to offer."