Theater woes

Avalon owner says city's requirements may shut him down

Salt Lake Tribune, 28 December 2006

Article Summary:

In the 1990s, Art Proctor built a stage in front of the Avalon's screen and hosted hypnotist shows.

In February 2006, Corey Adams and a partner bought the Avalon and turned it into an all-ages concert venue and community church. Adams has been in concert promotion for 15 years and is a part-owner of Saltair, a concert venue on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake. The community church hosts a few different religious groups on Sundays.

South Salt Lake Fire Marshal Bruce Shoemaker shut down the Avalon for at least two months after attendance at an October 27 concert exceeded the building's maximum occupancy of 500 by 328 people. The seats, which dictated the occupancy, had been removed. Raising the occupancy level would require expensive upgrades with fire sprinklers and a smoke-control system, so Shoemaker asked that seating be returned. The old, red theater seats had been discarded, so Adams installed plywood benches. City inspectors also complained that the building has no heat after Adams removed a non-functioning furnace and that other work has been done to the structure without the proper permits or approval. The concert venue will be able to resume operations once Adams has presented complete, detailed plans for work he has done and intends to do on the building.

Adams says he is weeks away from being run out of business by the City of South Salt Lake, which doesn't want a place in town where youth congregate at night, even though the venue is alcohol-free and has never had a fight or an arrest.

City officials say Adams has been told repeatedly the theater violates building and fire codes, and they are working with him to bring the structure into compliance.

“Every time they come in here, they put new things on the list. It's a merry-go-round. We've complied with every request they've given us. They are running us out of business, and I would love to know why.” (Cory Adams)

“Our biggest concern is that we need to have a safe venue for the kids to go to. We do not want a reoccurrence of what happened in Rhode Island” when nearly 100 people at a heavy-metal concert perished in a 2003 fire. “He's kind of put the cart before the horse: doing the work and then wanting the city to approve it.” (Janice Frost , Deputy City Attorney)

“Kids need a positive place to go for shows. If the Avalon's out of the game right now, the only place that offers that is The Circuit in Midvale. Salt Lake City is in dire need of an all-ages venue." (Steve Auerbach, general manager of the Paul Green School of Rock Music)