Looks like there could be more upcoming projects for Orem....
Orem arts hub could hit $66 million
By Sara Israelsen
Deseret Morning News
OREM — In a dream world, a cultural arts hub would be built around the SCERA theater, creating a street of artistic flavor that would be crown jewel of the county.
Deseret Morning News graphic
Yes, it may be just a dream to arts-loving folks in Orem, but city leaders have been given a glimpse of what it may take — financially, at least — to turn a dream into reality.
A $45,000 feasibility study unveiled Tuesday indicates that such a project would cost about $66 million.
Orem officials wanted to see what could be done with money generated by the voter-approved Cultural Arts and Recreation Enrichment (CARE) tax — a 1/10 of one percent sales tax.
The sales tax, approved last November, was projected to generate $1.6 million a year in revenue, based on current sales-tax figures.
With some of the money generated by the tax, Orem hired a national planning company to look at what Orem has and evaluate what Orem residents and leaders said they want.
Bob Bailey, a principal in California-based AMS Planning and Research, came to Orem in April to survey community members, civic leaders and arts organizations about their thoughts related to cultural arts.
"One of the things that impressed us was the nature of the market," Bailey told the City Council. His research shows that Orem residents, compared to the nation, are 14 percent more likely to attend the theater and 16 percent more likely to go to a dance or music performance.
Bailey also presented potential cost estimates along with architectural sketches of potential future buildings.
"This is a very ambitious and very impressive presentation," said Mayor Jerry Washburn, who also said he was slightly concerned about the $66 million price tag. And that figure, he noted, didn't include annual operating costs, which could range from $600,000 to $800,000.
Bailey recommends a renovation of the SCERA theater, then construction of an arts education center, a children's museum and a heritage museum.
The cost of renovating the SCERA theater — built in 1933 — would be around $40 million, which comes out to a cost of $465 per square foot. New buildings can cost around $600 per square foot and up to $1,000 per square foot.
Expenses could be covered by the city's CARE tax, personal and private donations and federal funds — a funding approach that would have to be worked out in detail if the city decided to go in that direction.
Another way to save on costs could be to house the arts education center, children's museum and a heritage center in one or two large buildings, thus creating an "arts district" near the SCERA theater, pool and park.
"Really, this could be the park which could be the gem of the entire valley," Bailey said.
"As we begin to look at the SCERA facilities, we see a great little street down here," Bailey said, referring to 720 South.
While it's a grandiose proposal, it's exciting to consider, said Orem Councilwoman Karen McCandless.
The city has been studying the issue of cultural arts enhancement for years with the help of a Cultural Arts Advisory Commission.