Press Room

PTC To Renovate Building For Artist Housing

July 9, 2010

Kirsten Park

Chris Lino


Pioneer Theatre Company has announced that it has purchased University House, on the corner of 1300 East and 200 South in Salt Lake City, with plans to convert the second, third, and fourth floors to artist housing for the theatre’s guest actors, directors, and designers.

Construction on the renovation of the building is scheduled to start in the summer of 2010, with the anticipated completion date occurring in the summer of 2011.

University House was built in 1907 1890 [updated/edited August 2011] six years before Utah achieved statehood. By 1909, it was being used as the dormitory for female students enrolled at the University of Utah—the first such women’s dormitory west of the Mississippi. In recent years, the building has been rented out as boarding rooms.

Pioneer Theatre Company, a professional theatre on the University of Utah campus, is partnering with local developer Cowboy Partners on the purchase and renovation of the building. Cowboy Partners is the owner and/or developer of a number of prominent residential projects in Salt Lake City.

The ground floor retail space will be owned by Cowboy Partners, and the current retail businesses occupying the ground floor will continue as tenants in the building.

“Pioneer Theatre Company houses over 120 guest artists annually, and has a need for twenty apartments for a ten month period from August through May,” said PTC Managing Director Chris Lino. “We’ve been looking to own our artist housing at a location close to the theatre, and I’m delighted that we’ve found a site that will not only meet our needs, but will be a wonderful asset in the neighborhood and community   as well. Our theatre artists will patronize local businesses, eat in nearby restaurants and shop in neighborhood stores. Because they are from out of the area and will work one-block away they generally won’t have cars and will not increase traffic congestion in the neighborhood. Perhaps most importantly, we will be taking a building with an historic past and restoring it to its former glory.”

The current tenants of the residential units will be given a generous relocation package. “We will provide all of the residential tenants with a two-month  relocation window, during which time we will not charge them rent,” said Dan Lofgren, CEO of Cowboy Partners. “We will also offer them relocation counseling, including providing them with lists and contacts for other affordable housing in the valley.”

The total cost of the purchase and renovation is $3.2 million. The theatre’s portion of the project—the second, third and fourth floors—will cost $2.5 million.

The theatre has secured approximately $2 million of the $2.5 million project costs—all from private philanthropic sources—and will pursue the remaining $500,000 by seeking additional gifts and grants from donors.

Peter and Catherine Meldrum, long-time theatre patrons, have made a lead gift of $1.2 million. Peter Meldrum, founder and CEO of Myriad Genetics, is the immediate past Chairman of the Pioneer Theatre Company Board of Trustees.

“As we became more involved with PTC through the years, we realized that quality actor housing was one of the most important factors in attracting first-rate actors,” said Peter Meldrum. “That’s why, when PTC identified a great location for its own artist housing—one which will improve the neighborhood—and  had a chance to own its housing at a fraction of the cost the theatre was paying in rent, we knew we wanted to help.”

The Meldrums have been generous supporters of PTC and numerous other organizations in Utah, and recently helped fund the creation of the Meldrum Science Center on the campus of Westminster College.

Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah’s only fully professional theatre, performs at Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus at 300 South and 1400 East in Salt Lake City. Pioneer Theatre Company operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.