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SCERA expansion plan may face neighbor hurdle

10 homes would have to be razed if center is built

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OREM — Some Orem residents might need to call the movers if the SCERA gets its way.

SCERA boss Daryl Berlin wants the city to build a bustling performing arts center adjacent to the current SCERA building. The proposed 60,000-square-foot facility is estimated to cost $25 million.

But in order to build such a grand hall, more than 10 homes would have to be knocked down to accommodate all of SCERA's plans.

"This is bigger than just my home," said Julie Siebach, who lives at the edge of SCERA Park on 400 East where parking stalls would replace her lot. "It does impact people. It's not just my deal, it's the whole community."

Under the proposed plan, homeowners along the north side of 720 South and the west side of 400 East would have to pack up and move so SCERA could build a parking lot.

"Now don't jump to conclusions — we're not taking out anything," Berlin said. "This was a proposal that if we were to develop this center, that is one way it could look. We're not proposing at this point that we take out anything."

Siebach's main concern isn't that her house could be up on the chopping block. She said she's upset SCERA officials went straight to the City Council with their plans without getting any input from the neighbors.

Berlin said he only presented a concept plan to city leaders. The plan could be changed after receiving citizen input.

"I was disappointed in the fact the City Council knew this was an idea before I did," Siebach said. "I just think if you're going to be a good neighbor to somebody, you let them know that this is something you are contemplating, if for no other reason than to ask us our opinions and bring us on board."

Mayor Jerry Washburn refused to comment about removing homes because he hasn't had time to review the site plan.

"Obviously there are some issues there with existing homes and a whole lot of things that would have to be dealt with and solved as we go," Berlin said. "We understand that."

The three-level, 3,000-seat performing arts center could become the permanent home of the Utah Valley Symphony. Berlin said he also hopes to lure Broadway touring groups to Orem, noting that the only way they will come is with a first-rate facility.

Councilman Doug Forsyth said he wasn't sure if Orem could compete with Salt Lake City's Capitol Theatre for the popular Broadway shows.

"You're not going to have 'Les Miz' play in Salt Lake and the next week in Orem," Forsyth said.

Berlin responded saying that as long as there is a big enough facility and an audience willing to pay, Broadway shows will venture down to Utah Valley.

Talks about the proposed center have been going on for months, Berlin said.

"It would be a larger facility than we currently have in Orem, and one we believe will set Orem's future in the arts for many years to come."

Washburn said raising money to build a $25 million facility is a "pretty ambitious endeavor."

E-MAIL: ldethman@desnews.com