Salt Lake County might adjust the rent charged the Salt Lake Art Center, but it won't ask for more than arts groups can afford, according to Commission Chairman Jim Bradley.

In fact, the rent might even be lowered or eliminated, Bradley added. "All our options are on the table, but I can tell you now that we're not going to force the arts groups out of the building."And he said there is no proposal on the table to double the rent.

The question of rent at the art center and other county buildings was first raised weeks ago, after county officials and advisory groups completed an evaluation of uses, costs and revenues at the facilities.

Located in the plaza south of Abravanel Hall on West Temple between South Temple and 100 South, the Art Center occupies one of the city's "premier" sites and could command a high rent.

Suggestions have included providing office space in the building for the County Convention and Visitors Center, which will be displaced by the Salt Palace expansion project; leasing space for a restaurant; and other commercial uses.

But Bradley said advisers and the county's elected officials quickly concluded that an art gallery is the "best public use" of the building. It was designed for that use, and it is fulfilling a beneficial public purpose by providing access to the arts, he said.

Having made that determination, the next question was whether the county was receiving an adequate return on its public investment. In this case, the return can be measured in terms of the rent - about $30,000 last year - or broader public policy considerations, Bradley added.

"Some communities provide premium space to art galleries and museums at no cost because, and that's something we will consider," Bradley said. "Certainly, we won't raise the rent any more than the arts groups can afford to pay. We will find common ground."