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September opening set for Abravanel Hall plaza

Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

September opening set for Abravanel Hall plaza

By Katie McKellar | Posted - Aug. 22, 2015 at 12:35 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — After a handful of setbacks caused three months of delays, construction of the redesigned Abravanel Hall plaza is in its final stages.

"We're really pleased that it's finally coming together," said Phil Jordan, division director of Salt Lake County's Center for the Arts. "It will be completed in time for the ribbon-cutting, which is scheduled for Sept. 9th."

The plaza will act as a new entry to Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple, with grassy landscaping, trees, public seating, walkways and mellow night-time lighting to offer a comfortable gathering place for outdoor concerts and other community events.

It will be finished just in time for the 75th anniversary of the Utah Symphony, which will be celebrated during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"We're very excited," said Patricia A. Richards, interim president and CEO of the Utah Symphony. "It's going to be a beautiful, welcoming start to our 75th anniversary season."

The plaza was originally slated to be completed by the end of May, but it was delayed by underground leakage from the 30-year-old fountain that the project was initiated to replace. The leaks soaked the soil, so workers had to take extra time to remove the soil, replace it and get test results back from engineers to ensure the ground was ready for new concrete.

Other setbacks included a discovery of a mysterious cable box that took two weeks of investigation before county officials said it was safe to remove because it was an old communications cable from Temple Square.

Throughout the process, county officials also discovered they had enough within the project budget to expand a heating system underneath the walkways to prevent icy hazards all the way up to the nearby TRAX station.

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Jordan said construction is scheduled to wrap up by Aug. 31, and city officials will finish inspections by Sept. 5. It will be open to the public after the ribbon-cutting.

"(Patrons) can then enjoy a space that creates great new access to the theater and proves the opportunity to gather and be able to have lunch or dinner out on the plaza while listening to the music through the speaker system," Jordan said.

Workers were installing the plaza's lawns and trees on Thursday. Jordan said the plaza's intricate, multicolored concrete is ready for placement, and purchase of the outdoor furniture — benches and tables — is almost finalized.

He said workers have also started fitting lighting fixtures and setting up the speaker system, which will broadcast the symphony's rehearsals.

Jordan said the new plaza will create a more refreshing, relaxing and natural environment for the public to enjoy.

Richards said it will create a more "graceful" entry way to the theater from South Temple.

"It's really going to be beautiful and will look even better than what we anticipated from the designs," she said.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and Utah Symphony Music Director Thierry Fischer will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 9 to celebrate the new plaza and kick off the symphony's season.

"We're looking forward to it," Richards said. "It will be a great occasion and well worth waiting for."

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Katie McKellar

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