Hale Centre Theatre could have an encore in West Valley City after all.
The theater, which announced last year it was moving from West Valley to Sandy, has rewritten its script. Hale now says it wants to continue operations in West Valley City, in addition to opening a second location in the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley.
Hale, which has a lease through 2016, is in discussions with West Valley to stay, according to Rob Brough, chairman of the theater’s board of trustees.
“We love our home in West Valley City,” he said Thursday. “They’ve been great to work with.”
And although Hale had said it was moving to a site next to Interstate 15 in Sandy, the theater now also is considering other locations in the south valley for its second location, Brough said. He added the organization is still in talks with Sandy but “we’re currently not under contract for that piece of ground.”
In addition to Sandy, Hale is looking at locations in South Jordan. Interim City Manager Gary Whatcott said there have been preliminary discussions but the talks are just exploratory so far.
“Of course we’re interested,” he said. “That would be a great amenity in our community.”
Wherever the expanded theater is built, Hale, with more than 24,000 season-ticket holders, would be able to fill both locations year-round, Brough said.
“The intent is that there would be different programming for each theater,” he said.
Hale representatives told West Valley City in fall 2012 that all productions were selling out and they wanted to triple the number of seats to about 1,900 in a new facility.
Negotiations then began with the city, which had bonded in 1997 to help build the current venue near 3500 South and Interstate 215. Hale leases the building from the city, which uses the rent payments to pay for the bonds.
West Valley offered a new lease agreement on the current building at 3333 S. Decker Lake Drive and the city Redevelopment Agency went into escrow on an adjacent 15-acre parcel that it proposed as the site for the expanded venue.
But after months of negotiations, West Valley halted talks in February 2013, saying it was unable to persuade Hale to accept a deal. The city did not go through with the purchase of the adjacent parcel and forfeited a $100,000 non-refundable deposit.
A few weeks later, Hale and Sandy representatives announced the theater was expanding at 9950 Monroe St., just east of I-15.
Sandy purchased the 11.5-acre site for $7.2 million and offered to lease 5.5 acres to Hale for $1 a year for 50 years. The theater then offered to buy the entire site and put down a $100,000 deposit on it, Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said.
Hale asked for a payment extension in September, but the city was unable to accommodate the request and returned the deposit, the mayor said.
He added that Hale is having a problem raising the money to build the new theater.
Brough, though, said the organization is in the first year of a multiyear fundraising campaign and is encouraged by its progress. He declined to disclose how much money has been raised so far; Hale estimates that the expansion will cost approximately $65 million.
Sandy has hired an architect to lay out the property and is including the Hale Centre Theatre as a possible occupant, the mayor said. The land is not officially on the market but the city would consider offers, he said.
Dolan said the city and Hale are still trying to reach a firm resolution.
But noting that the theater is exploring other sites, he added, “We’re supportive of Hale Theatre wherever it goes.”