Show more? Judge rules against order to stop demolition of Salt Lake’s century-old theater


A 3rd District judge ruled Monday against an injunction that would delay the demolition of Utah’s century-old theater in Salt Lake City, pictured Dec. 3, 2019. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — It looks like the show is over for the Utah Pantages Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.

A 3rd District judge ruled on Monday against an injunction that would delay the demolition of the century-old Main Street theater, though he did not issue a final ruling in a lawsuit over the deal between the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City and a development company established in 2019.

Judge Robert Faust made the ruling after listening to more than an hour of argument from an attorney representing the Friends of the Utah Pantages Theater, a group opposed to the demolition of the theater, and attorneys representing Salt Lake City and Hines, the parent company. of the building’s current owner, Main Street Tower Owner LLC.

“Respectively, I simply find that the plaintiffs do not have standing at this stage,” he said. “I don’t see how they will, personally, suffer irreparable harm. Yes, there is a problem with the irreparability of the structure and the building…but I don’t see that as irreparable harm to them.”

Faust added that absent allegations of fraud against the RDA of Salt Lake City or Hines, there is no basis for a temporary restraining order to prevent the demolition of the building.

A detailed ruling in the case could be made later, depending on an appeal of Monday’s decision.

The decision was made days after Hines received the permits she needed from Salt Lake City to begin demolishing the theater.

Attorney Bruce Baird, who represents Hines and the owner of the Main Street tower, filed notice of his client’s intention to demolish the theater beginning Tuesday, according to a document filed in 3rd District Court. In the notice, he wrote that the owner of the Main Street tower still intended to demolish the theater as soon as he had the permits to do so. The permits were obtained “earlier than expected”.

A spokesperson for Hines declined to say Monday whether Hines plans to continue demolishing the building on Tuesday.

During a hearing on Monday afternoon, Baird argued that any delay in the process would cost Hines tens of thousands of dollars every day. Faust determined it would cost $80,000 a day based on testimony provided by Dusty Harris, Hines’ senior general manager.

Harris told the court that the costs are a result of debt costs, capitalization rates, inflation and the cost of contractors being there and ready to go late. These delay costs have yet to occur as he was still waiting for the city to complete its demolition permit process.

The historic Utah Theater on Main Street in Salt Lake City, Utah October 23, 2010. The Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency owned the building until last year when its $0 deal with Hines was terminated finalized.
The historic Utah Theater on Main Street in Salt Lake City, Utah October 23, 2010. The Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency owned the building until last year when its $0 deal with Hines was terminated finalized. (Photo: Mike Terry, Deseret News)

Hines acquired the Pantages Theater in a $0 deal approved by Salt Lake City leaders in 2019. He plans to build a 31-story skyscraper in place of the building. A contractor filed permits to demolish the building on behalf of the owner of the Main Street tower in January.

A new lawsuit seeking to halt the demolition of the theater and void the 2019 deal was originally filed in February. He argued that the city violated Utah laws in its process to hand over the building for demolition. Faust previously dismissed Salt Lake City Corporation from the lawsuit in a decision that allowed the city to continue reviewing demolition permits.

The group also sued Salt Lake City last year for trying to put the city’s deal with Hines on the ballot for residents to decide.

It’s unclear if Friends of the Utah Pantages Theater will appeal Monday’s decision. KSL.com contacted a band organizer after the decision but did not receive a response as of press time.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning journalist who covers general news, the outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a transplant from Utah via Rochester, New York.

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