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Group sues Salt Lake City in effort to preserve historic theatres

A group seeking to preserve a pair of historic downtown theatres is suing Salt Lake City. (PHOTO: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News via

SALT LAKE CITY — A group seeking to preserve a pair of historic downtown theatres is suing Salt Lake City.

Preservation group files lawsuit, hopes to get on the ballot

The leaders of “Save the Pantages Theatre” have filed suit after being denied the opportunity to place a voter initiative on the November ballot. The initiative would have asked residents to vote on proving historic status for the Capitol Theatre and the Utah Pantages Theatre.

The lawsuit lists Salt Lake City recorder Cindy Lou Trishman, Salt Lake City attorney Katherine Lewis and the city as respondents.

The first attempt at a voter initiative was filed on March 17. The lawsuit alleges that backers of the petition were told they needed 8,048 verified signatures by April 15. However, the lawsuit claims they weren’t allowed to gather signatures until April 5, which was when the city confirmed the legality of the proposal.

The initiative later failed to make it on the ballot because the group didn’t get enough signatures.

The day after the deadline, April 16, they filed another initiative. Salt Lake City officials later informed the group that the second attempt didn’t qualify for the ballot because state law bars petitioners from filing “identical or substantially similar” proposed laws within two years of a failed proposed law initiative.

A new skyscraper could be next

Salt Lake City has yet to respond to the lawsuit in court.  However, a statement to from the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office said that city attorneys are aware of the lawsuit and in the process of reviewing it.

The City Council and the city’s redevelopment agency board voted in December 2019 to sell the building land for $0 to a developer. Their plan is to construct a 30-story, 300-apartment skyscraper in place of the Pantages Theatre. At this time, the demolition of the 103-year-old building has yet to happen.