It has almost been a year since crews began to tear apart the Utah Pantages Theater, amid an effort to save the historic building by a group committed to preserving the theater, making way for the construction of a new high-rise on Salt Lake City's Main Street.
The 31-story tower is poised to add 400 units to downtown Salt Lake City in the coming years, 40 of which would be set aside as affordable housing for residents listed within 60% to 80% of the county's average median income.
However, there's no sign of construction anytime soon despite original plans to break ground by the end of this month. Both Hines, the global real estate firm behind the project, and the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City say that they are aware of the situation and working to sort it out amid economic factors.
"Hines Development has communicated to the (redevelopment agency) that the 150 Main project is experiencing delays. We are currently working with Hines, within the context of our agreement, to explore all our options," said Amanda Greenland, a spokeswoman for the agency, in a statement Thursday.
Building Salt Lake first reported the delay earlier this month, pointing out that there's a March 31 target date for construction to begin within the development agreement that the two sides signed in November 2021, which is when Salt Lake City completed its transfer of the property to Hines. The project is supposed to be completed within the next three years.
Greenland said Thursday that there have been no adjustments to the development schedule since November 2021, and Hines has not submitted any requests to revise the agreement, either.
A spokesperson for Hines told KSL.com that "unprecedented market changes" over the past few months have disrupted the project's timing. They were unable to say when construction could begin because it is still being sorted out.
The Federal Reserve began raising the interest rate last year in an effort to combat record inflation. The reserve increased it again on Wednesday, raising the benchmark rate to 5%, the highest since 2007.
While the status of construction is up in the air, Hines officials say they are still planning to move forward with the project.
"We continue to be fully committed to the project and the Salt Lake community," the spokesperson added.
The project was the subject of a lawsuit over how Salt Lake City handled its agreement with Hines, which came from a group trying to save the century-old Pantages Theater from being destroyed. City leaders sold the theater to Hines in 2019 for $0 in order to get certain concessions that the firm agreed to, which are the inclusion of affordable housing units in the project, the reuse of the theater's historic elements and a midblock walkway.
The lawsuit sought to void the agreement because it violated the Utah code, said Michael Valentine, one of the founders of Friends of the Utah Pantages Theater, at the time. Court records show the case was eventually dismissed without prejudice about a month after the demolition began.