City approves $3 million bid for Electric Theater restoration

The Electric Theater, St. George, Utah, Feb. 24, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council unanimously approved a bid for $3 million Thursday to do restoration and renovation work on the Electric Theater and adjacent buildings. Though the project has run nearly $1 million over budget, city officials said they believe it is a worthwhile investment that will help strengthen the downtown area and local arts groups.

The original budget for the Electric Theater renovation was set at $2.15 million. St. George City Manager Gary Esplin told the City Council the majority of the funds budgeted for the project had come from the sale of city property and hadn’t been taken out of the general fund.

Esplin noted the city hadn’t received as many bids as it would have liked due to the nature of the project. Contractors aren’t necessarily eager to work on restoration projects, he said. Of the few bids that were received, however, the highest came in at $4 million, with the lowest – a bid from Steed Construction – coming in at $3,045,977.

The city bought the century-old Electric Theater and two neighboring buildings in March 2013 for $950,000. City officials have said they wish to preserve the Electric Theater while also turning it and the adjacent buildings into an 18,000-square-foot multipurpose arts center. The general concept is to provide a place where arts groups of all varieties can meet, maintain office space, practice, rehearse and so forth.

“The majority of the space is not just the theater,” Esplin said. “It’s for dance, art and other groups.”

St. George Mayor Jon Pike said a feasibility study concerning the city’s need for a theater/arts complex was conducted a few years ago. While the study concluded there was a possible need for such a complex, its findings also recommended the city strengthen its local arts groups first. The renovation of the Electric Theater is seen as a step toward accomplishing that, Pike said.

“That’s an investment in our downtown,” Esplin said.

Councilman Jimmie Hughes compared the Electric Theater project to the Dixie Sunbowl – it may not be something everyone likes or participates in, yet ultimately both add to the diversity of the city.

“We bought the building to save it,” Hughes said. “I’m OK if we sharpen our pencils and go to work and try to make this happen.”

Councilwoman Michele Randall agreed.

“We already made the investment in it, so let’s do it right,” she said.

The City Council unanimously approved the bid.

Following the council meeting, Esplin said it is often easier to demolish an old building than try to restore it. However, the City Council has made its choice and is moving forward with it. Esplin said he supports the effort.

“When it’s all done, it’ll be a real asset to the downtown,” he said.

Other business

A delegation from Ibigawa, Japan, St. George’s marathon sister city, made an appearance at the council meeting. Officials from both cities have been visiting each other around marathon time since 1989.

“It’s a fantastic exchange,” Pike said.

Kyle Case, executive director of the Huntsman World Senior Games, which starts after the St. George Marathon weekend, approached the council and told them it had been a banner year for registrations. As of Thursday, he said, 10,699 people had registered for the games. It is also estimated the economic impact of the games on the St. George area will be in excess of $16 million this year.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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22 Comments

  • Brian October 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Dear City of St. George, Please unsubscribe me and refund any of my unused taxes… Seriously, are they all on crack? 3 million for that pile of crap? A new tax to go to the arts, in a city that has more sculptures, splash pads, parks, and roundabouts per capita than anywhere else on earth? Do they realize money doesn’t grow on trees? In November, please vote out every single solitary incumbent at every level of government. We have to get rid of all of these jokers and replace them with citizens that are seriously ticked off and committed to the principles that made this nation great in the first place.

  • kisthecook October 3, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Mr Mayor 3 million really is this going to be a palace? What a waste of taxpayer money get a grip. Maybe 350000 would make sense, but millions hello reality. Hey you can dedo my house for probably 75K and it would be a monument in the neighborhood. You could retro fit many of the historical homes to be energy efficient without breaking the rules. I have it on good authority it would be over 25K to retrofit one historical home if not more. But Hey what 3 million when the tax payers are footing the bill

    • mesaman October 3, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      I share both your concern. Lately I’ve begun to question my sanity for voting for the mayor; the appointment of just another bobble head council woman, the appointment of the code officer as code judge, now the old Gaiety Theater. Frankenstein had a better chance of breathing life into the monster than this city council has in breathing life into the old theater. Ed Baca should have been named on the city council to break the good ‘ol boys club apart.

    • CALI GIRL October 4, 2014 at 10:37 am

      I agree what an improper use of money the city doesn’t have. I heard a rumor the TEMPLE is falling apart and will be torn down and moved as it cost too much to do repairs. STG is appealing because it looks new. It is a tourist attraction, the tourist’s don’t visit these small ugly eyesore. They go to outdoor events like the theater and ZIONS. The elec theater is for kids looking to hang out get high drink and cause a nuisance when open. I will not drop my child off there. Been there done that. ALL IN PLAIN VIEW..ask the COPS.

  • HUMMYNBYRD October 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Seriously?? The children have to Pay to go to school here, which, by the way, I had never heard of in any other state I’d lived in until I moved here 20 years ago! This money should go to the schools and paying our teachers, police, and firemen fair wages for all of the work they do. Start a lottery or something in the state to fund stuff like this like lots of other states do. People just cross into Nevada and spend their money there to get them anyways…..get smart Utah.

  • Angel October 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    What a serious waste of money restoring that stuffy cave.
    When are you going to give up on the old down town ,very few want to do business there.
    I’ve lived here my entire 67 years and the only thing I do down town is go to the banks and my insurance company.
    My wife will not shop their, all the good shops moved out.
    I can’t figure it out, some of the people on the city counsel must have a personal vested interest . That’s the only thing that makes sence.
    It makes better sence to take that 3 million and build a arts center that’s a real crowd draw like Tuacahn .
    I bet it the city council would come out of their fanticy world if they had to open their oun wallets.

  • Koolaid October 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    What companies bid on the job and what work were they bidding on? Were bids only accepted from a select few, that favor for friends and family type of thing? Something don’t seem right here. That’s a lot of taxpayer mullah to keep some people in the money for a while. How long is this project going to take?

  • Bobber October 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    I feel violated. It feels so wrong…

  • The Rest Of The Story October 3, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Oh, the party of Small Government is at it again. From what I understand, the Electric Theater faced an uphill battle from City Hall/City Council with regard to silly ordinances prohibiting adults from doing adult things–things most other normal states and countries that are not controlled by silly religious cults allow their adults to do…like drinking and dancing–HOW WICKED AND SATANIC, RIGHT?? But the party of small government had its eye on the real estate and their little boondoggle for the contractors who know the right people “down at the ward” where all the decisions that run this city–and much of this state–are made.

  • Embarrassed..... October 4, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Dear Angel,
    I agree with your comments, however…..please get spell check…it’s
    City Council,
    sense,
    fantasy,
    own,
    and downtown is really only one word.
    One last thing it’s……My wife will not shop there (not their) and it’s
    an art center, not “a” art center.
    And did that entire 67 years begin right here in our Utah schools?

    • Angel October 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      I’m not embarrassed , I am 67 yrs and self actualized . I have poor English in writing and have other flaws . But I have good common sense . What is disturbing to me, is that you seem more concern about my spelling, than important issues.
      Please make comments about your feelings on the issues so I can know who you are, Instead of just agreeing with what others say. : )
      And yes I was schooled in Utah schools but that’s no reflection on the school system , they did not know what ADA and dyslexia was in those days and because I can’t spell dos mean that I don’t appreciate the arts.
      What would you say if you know I was black are if english was a second language.
      I don’t get embarrassed I see the world as a bigger place than you do.

  • TARRELL Hughes October 4, 2014 at 7:40 am

    M bare assed get a life

  • BR1896 October 4, 2014 at 9:26 am

    This is a waste of money. Once completed the space will be too small for most groups. Tear it down and start over. Better yet use the money to tear up the Sun Bowl and build something useful with adequate parking.

  • Whisp October 4, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Ditto that. Get a life embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for you. Quit being a bully. I noticed the misspelled words but didn’t feel it would be nice or necessary to make someone feel like crap this early in the morning. I hope you feel better about yourself today for trying to make someone else feel small. And yes, this is too much money for this overhaul. Let a private citizen ” invest ” in this. And yes, I started a sentence with “And”.

  • CALI GIRL October 4, 2014 at 10:30 am

    The sun bowl is an eye sore.

  • Bobber October 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Someone please tell me why they use our taxes to do such stupid things? Why are they allowed to get away with it? Is this new mayor gonna be worse than the old one?

  • M and M cookies October 4, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    This is a waste of money, we have art galleries, dance schools and studios, like Tuacahn… People will not come downtown, no parking, dangerous at night, no decent restaurants, It s nice the st George theater is back at the oper house, but my friends and I can,t go, because of lack of parking, stairs, few handicapped spots etc.. And you are. It suppose to park at the post office a federal building.. People from the LDS. Hutch on 100 north and Dixie dr. Park in the frie station, to lazy to walk further in their own parking lot, and block the doors for the fire truck.. I hope we see better use of our tax payer dollars. not e wrote is a rodeo fan, or arts. But use off the Dixie bowl once a ear, another waste…

  • laytonian October 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    IF St George will grow up and offer some serious adult theater and films at the Electric Theater, it will be a boost for the town.
    We do NOT want to see rehashed musicals at Tuahcan and would love to be treated as the adults we are.
    M&M Cookies: we are NOT all LDS and we are people with money who’d like to spend it on serious entertainment.

    • Big Guy October 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Laytonian has a legitimate objection to what he/she considers less-than-adult theater, while many others would object to what passes for adult theater these days. My question is what business does government have supporting ANY artistic endeavor? Should government support local professional sports teams? Why not? How about financial support for all kinds of recreation and hobbies: model airplanes, four wheeling, motorcycle clubs, rock concerts, square dancing, etc? Let those who enjoy such activities support them with tickets, donations and their own funds. The same goes for the “arts.” The Electric Theater and the RAP tax are terrible ideas.

  • Koolaid October 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    The Electric Theater probably will become another church oriented facility, maybe some baby bounce house and place where mommas can have regular group latch on events.

    • Bobber October 4, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Seems like everything they do is geared towards babies and bratty kids…

      • Koolaid October 5, 2014 at 10:29 am

        Or old people in diapers

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