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Activist chains himself to historic downtown SLC theater planned for demolition

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jun 08, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — A man has chained himself to the Utah Theater in downtown Salt Lake City to protest the building's sale.

In December of 2019, the Salt Lake Redevelopment Agency (RDA) announced it was in the process of selling the building, which was originally called the "Utah Pantages Theater."

READ: Group looks to save historic SLC theater from demolition

Since then, Michael Valentine and the "Save the Pantages" group have been working to stop what they are calling the corrupt sale of the building.

And this week, Valentine began a hunger strike outside the building.

"All of our sister Pantages theaters have been saved," he said. "There is a way to save this. We have Sundance, we have a historical theater district we could build right here... [the theater] 100% needs to be saved."

SLC Mayor Erin Mendenhall responded to the group's opposition.

"This theater is literally a gilded venue for people who could afford to pay for entry, and it would take tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to bring it back to a safe and stable state," she said. "The cost of that is comparable to the cost of construction for all three homeless resource centers just a few years ago."

The "Save the Pantages" group claims they have proof the RDA has been hiding ways to save the building so it could be sold to make way for high-rise apartments.

Mendenhall says the process has been transparent and lawful, but she supports Valentine's right to protest. She said she will send EMT crews periodically to check on his health and wellbeing.