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The City Journals

Centennial Plaza coming soon outside City Hall; $750,000 amphitheater now back in the budget

Feb 08, 2021 02:13PM ● By Carl Fauver

This overhang at the north end of the new concession stand outside the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center will feature picnic tables for outside dining. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Our new year brings a couple of significant anniversaries to both the state of Utah and Taylorsville City. Utah became a state in 1896, making it 125 years old. Meanwhile, Taylorsville was incorporated exactly 100 years after statehood, in 1996, making the city 25 years old. Some, in fact, may not know Taylorsville is nicknamed “Utah’s Centennial City” because of those corresponding dates.

So, as construction work continues at a fevered pace outside city hall, Taylorsville elected officials feel they have finally come up with the perfect name for the open space being installed just west of the new Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center: Centennial Plaza.

“Since this is our 25th anniversary, and we are nicknamed the ‘Centennial City,’ we feel the name clicks and works perfectly,” said Mayor Kristie Overson. “It honors our past. It’s at the intersection of Taylorsville Boulevard and Centennial Way. It just feels right.”

And most would likely agree that it has more of a ring to it than the way it was being referred to prior to this revelation: Taylorsville’s front yard.

The large area will feature about an acre of open grass, surrounded by sidewalks, benches and other amenities. The area is intended to host the city’s popular “movies in the park” summer series. There’s also been talk of creating a seasonal farmers market.

After the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, it appeared there would not be much more to the open space when it initially opens. Fearing COVID-19 would have a disastrous impact on sales tax revenues in Taylorsville, city council members approved deep cuts to their budget. These reductions included scaling back Centennial Plaza amenities.

However, as reported last month, the pandemic ended up not gouging sales tax revenues but instead raised them by about 10%. That unexpected twist relieved council member fears of having to raise taxes, while also allowing them to restore several expenditures to their budget, including a $750,000 amphitheater.

“The new amphitheater will have a large performing stage, electricity, a sound system and everything else we need,” Overson said. “It will have a roof and some enclosed storage areas. It’s where the screen will be for our summer, outdoor movies. I’m excited we’ve been able to add it back into our budget. It will be more economical to construct the amphitheater now—while everything is torn up—than to wait and do it later.”

City Engineer Ben White says, amphitheater construction has simply been added to the list of work being done by Centerville-based Hogan & Associates Construction.

“The amphitheater will be made of brick and concrete, and include a 50-by-75-foot stage,” he said. “It’s expected to be finished by early summer. Adding the $750,000 back into our costs, our total expenditures for work being done by Hogan is about $5.25 million.”

A good portion of that money was federal COVID-19 relief funding, spent on extensive remodeling inside city hall. Several second-floor offices were reconfigured to make them more resistant to the spread of communicable diseases. Hands-free (sliding) doors were also installed on the north and south sides of the building.

Meanwhile, some of the most visible construction now underway is being done at the south end of the property, near 5400 South, east and west of Centennial Way, the entry road into city hall. Hogan crews are installing decorative entryway walls that will feature cascading water and ponds. One wall will include raised lettering that reads “Taylorsville City,” while the other reads “Centennial Plaza.”

Water will cascade down each wall, behind the raised lettering, settling into the ponds. It’s intended to operate year-round, with a multi-purpose building used to circulate the water through to keep it from freezing in winter. 

The 29-foot-by-65-foot building is also still under construction, on the same side of Centennial Way as the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center. The building will feature four-stall men’s and women’s restrooms, storage closets and a concessions area. It will also house the pumps and heating required for the circulating water features. A 30-foot overhang, extending from the north end of the building, will provide a covered, outdoor dining area.

“I’m not sure what this building will be called,” White said. “The public will know it for the concession stand and restrooms. But if we did not have this building, we also could not operate the water feature year-round. So, that building will serve several purposes.” 

Veteran City Councilman Ernest Burgess is among those who’s excited to see all the new amenities put to use by Taylorsville residents.

“Centennial Plaza is really going to be a great place for city activities,” he said. “I think it’s a great name. It will be a great place for our ‘Movies in the Park.’ The arts committee will be able to make good use of it. I’ve heard talk of trying a farmers’ market there. I also think it could be a great place for Christmas lights.”

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, there’s still no target date for when ribbons will be cut on either the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center or the newly named Centennial Plaza.

“The last word we heard from Salt Lake County is they hope to begin running ‘test performances’ in the arts center sometime in March,” Overson said. “But we do not expect the theater to be available for actual shows until at least June. We are still in a wait-and-see mode.”

But despite the ongoing limitations imposed by coronavirus, the mayor says 2021 will be a yearlong celebration.

“We’re hoping things will be safe again by summer so we can have a Taylorsville Dayzz celebration that is bigger and better than ever,” Overson said. “At this point, we just don’t know. But everything we do this year, in one way or another, will be an anniversary celebration.”