Don't turn out the lights on Salt Lake's only art-house movie theater yet.
Greg Tanner, general manager and programmer for the Tower Theatre, 876 E. 900 South, said he is taking recent eviction threats and other business concerns "very seriously" but remains confident he can keep the theater open and still meet his financial obligations.Lawyers representing the building's owner, Harold Hill, filed an eviction notice this week in Salt Lake's 3rd District Court. The notice says Tower officials owe Hill more than $12,000 in back rent, property taxes and other charges.
Tanner also had to reapply for an operating license with the city this week after complaints from a scuffle during a recent concert by Vanilla Ice at the theater.
"Evidently we weren't qualified for live performances -- they weren't covered under the type of business license we have," he said.
So, for the time being, there will be no live performances at the Tower, and Tanner has had to cancel a series of concerts by the California Guitar Trio.
However, Tanner said he believes he'll be able to pay off at least most of the debt and stop the eviction before it happens. And scheduled screenings at the theater are expected to continue through the weekend at least.
"We're making every effort to come up with the money," he said.
However, Hill is seeking the entire amount of back rent and fees from the Tower, attorney Joseph Orifici said. "My client isn't trying to be the bad guy here. He's doesn't want to close the theater.
"He just wants his money so he can make the mortgage payment and pay the bills. I certainly don't think that's too much to ask."
The suit gives Tower officials three days to respond before action is taken.
Tanner said the Tower found itself in a financial bind early this year when he had to make improvements required in his contract to host screenings for the Sundance Film Festival.
"That kind of put us in a hole during a time where we're usually trying to save up money," Tanner said. "And business in February and March was pretty slow, so we wound up even further behind, unfortunately."
The Tower is currently operating under a five-year lease with Hill's company, Hill Real Estate. Orifici said his client would prefer the lease be monthly -- if Tower officials are even able to make the full payment.