Plan for updating Abravanel Hall estimated to cost hundreds of millions

May 20, 2024, 11:25 AM | Updated: 2:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As negotiations over the fate of a revitalized downtown continue, renovations to the much-discussed Abravanel Hall and home of the Utah Symphony are estimated to cost over $200 million.

The estimates for redoing the 45-year-old hall come from a master plan prepared by a team of architects, musicians, opera members, county facilities and arts and culture members, and the county mayor’s office. NOTE: The full report is at the end of this story.

The first meeting to allow for public comment on any of the downtown revitalization plans as Smith Entertainment Group and Salt Lake City work to house Utah’s new NHL team and redo the city’s urban core is slated for Tuesday in front of the Salt Lake City Council.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson recently stated her desire for Abravanell Hall to stay “in its present form” rather than be torn down and rebuilt.
SEG has said they want Abravanell Hall to stay “on-site.”

Five categories of updates for Abravanel Hall

The 2024 master plan lists five main categories of upgrades needed:

  • performance and performance spaces
  • front-of-house upgrades and additions
  • event space addition
  • alley infill
  • plaza upgrades.

Perhaps the most critical, several building system upgrades are needed including the fire suppression system, HVAC systems, controls for safety and security issues, and upgraded lighting.

The plan also lays out needs for better on-stage acoustics, re-doing the lobby and backstage areas that are too small, and updating a plaza it says is “underutilized” despite its core location downtown.

All told, the upgrades are estimated between $199 and $219 million depending on the option. There would be an additional 10% cost to any option to retrofit the building for earthquake mitigation.

The specifics

The performance hall upgrades include updating accessibility so the building meets current ADA standards and improved seating. It recommends adding forestage lifts and seat wagons, upgrading production infrastructure including screen projection, amplified sound and video capture. It also recommends integrating retractable curtains to improve acoustics.

Upgrades to the front of the house would include updating restroom access, expanding and reconfiguring the lobby, adding elevators, redoing the service counter, and expanding ancillary event spaces.

Local musicians react to Smith group proposal regarding Abravanel Hall’s future

Upgrades to the back of the house would include reconfiguring the loading dock and fixing “non-compliant” floor slopes, expanding the support spaces for musicians, and updating and expanding resident office spaces.

The plaza is also included in the recommendations for upgrades to improve production capabilities, landscaping, introduce connectivity to the Salt Palace, and add a shared event space on the room of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.

Downtown SLC revitalization talks fuel questions over Japantown future

The plan recommends doing all the work simultaneously “to minimize disruption to the Symphony and to maximize construction efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”

There’s no estimate on how long the updates could take.

The full report is below.

2024 Abravanel Hall Master Plan Executive Summary by LarryDCurtis on Scribd

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Plan for updating Abravanel Hall estimated to cost hundreds of millions