Scott McQuarrie, a Utah County developer, approached Sandy City in 2006 about building a theater capable of hosting touring Broadway shows. McQuarrie, Scott Wolthius, and one other partner formed BTS Investments Inc. They purchased 12 acres of land near 10100 South and 250 West, just east of I-15 and southwest of Sandy City Hall and named the development “The Proscenium.”[2, 3] The proscenium was an innovation in Greek theater to better frame performances, and the developers hoped the Proscenium would give patrons a sense of performing and acting on a creative stage.
The development was to have three office towers, with one up to 40 stories high. The 150,000-square-foot performing arts center, at the base of the main tower, would have included a 2,400-seat theater, a smaller black box or children's theater, performing arts school, and a multipurpose room. Plans also included a hotel, ice rink, art walk, open-air spa and pool, 850,000 square feet of office space, 300,000 square feet of retail and entertainment space, and 600 high-rise condominiums.[2, 3, 4, 5]
"It's part of our overall plan to make [Sandy] a great place to live, to shop, to be entertained and work,” said Tom Dolan, Mayor of Sandy.
At the time of its announcement in February 2008, developers had funding for $500 million project in place. The Broadway theater was expected to be a profit-making enterprise, without the need for taxpayer subsidies. Partial funding would have come from property tax money the theater would be allowed to keep. Additional funding could have come through the sale of naming rights.[2, 3]
The announcement of The Proscenium created a rivalry between Sandy and Salt Lake City, which had been considering a performing arts theater as the cornerstone of a downtown arts, culture, and entertainment district. Studies indicated the state would only be able to support one such facility. Proscenium developers insisted a Broadway theater could be built faster in Sandy, and using private money. Only a year earlier, Sandy successfully lured a Major League soccer stadium away from Salt Lake City.[1, 3]
"We have a project that is ready to get under way, and we have a developer to do it,” Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said. “I think Utah is among the highest for the arts. I think [a theater] would be a wonderful thing for the Sandy community and a good thing for the Wasatch Front.”
In late 2008, the credit market tumbled. Scott McQuarrie indicated in June 2009 that plans for a theater at the Proscenium could be scaled back to cover only regional plays and events.
"We're still looking to see what it ultimately is . . . We would hope that it's at least what the county is suggesting with its regional Cultural Facilities Master Plan," McQuarrie said. “It's a tough world out there. Hopefully we'll get a couple of sales and move forward.”
By September 2009, the Proscenium development had been scrapped because its funding had dried up. Sandy City made plans to purchase five acres of the site from McQuarrie for $5 million, with the intention of leasing it to a new developer. Sandy indicated that a new project on the site might still include a theater, but could also be a completely different project.
In December 2011, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan sent a letter to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker extending his full support of the Utah Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
1. “Theater battle brewing between Sandy, Salt Lake", Deseret Morning News, 07 December 2007
2. “Sandy lifts curtain on theater”, Deseret Morning News, 20 February 2008
3. “Curtain goes up on Sandy project”, Deseret Morning News, 02 April 2008
4. “Theater plans may be scaled back”, Deseret News, 18 June 2009
5. “Sandy to buy land that was planned for Proscenium”, Deseret News, 22 September 2009
6. “Salt Lake theater plans get Sandy mayor's support”, Deseret News, 06 January 2012