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Heberite proposes arcade, performance hall at historic Main Street theater

Avon Theatre is located at 94 South Main Street, two blocks south of Ideal Theatre.
Ben Lasseter
[FILE] The Ideal Theatre is located at 113 North Main Street in Heber City.

A Heber City man has an idea to turn one of his community’s most historic buildings into an entertainment center.

The Ideal Theatre on Heber City Main Street has stopped showing movies, but plans are in the works to possibly revitalize the building with new fun activities. The nearby Avon Theater is operating Friday through Monday.

Jeremy Smith is the CEO and president of Community Lending Group and has the theaters under contract. On Tuesday, he told the city council he got an idea to give people a new place to hang out in Heber from his daughter, whose friend group had nowhere to go after a school dance.

“I inquired, ‘Hey, how did it go? What do you do?’ and she said, ‘Well, after the dance, we just kind of hung out. We went to WalMart.’ She gave me the look like, ‘Well, it’s the dead of winter. What do you want me to do?’”

Smith said his vision is to pack an array of activities people like to do into the building, along with a stage for performances.

“The motivation is, how can we create something for our family, our youth, our teens, to have a place where they can go and participate in good wholesome activities?” he said. “The Ideal Theatre could be a fun place for kids and families to be entertained with arcade games, pool tables, TVs to watch sporting and other events, an additional venue for the Heber Cowboy Poetry Festival, open mic comedy improv shows, local students to have to play some music, and a place where we can get some swing on, get our line dancing on, do some boot-scootin’ boogying.”

Heber City Manager Matt Brower said the idea is exactly what the city should want to keep the downtown area alive, but there’s a parking issue.

The city council discussed whether the transformation of the building, which only has a few parking spots of its own in the back, would require a new permitting process to bring people to parking spots on Main Street.

“We find parking for a few thousand people every Thursday night in the summer,” Councilman Mike Johnston said about the Market on Main concert series. “They find a way. I don't think we need an agreement. I just think we let people find a place to park. That's what a downtown is, and it'll work.”

Councilman Scott Phillips also said he supported the idea, while councilwomen Rachel Kahler and Yvonne Barney said they liked it but wanted to learn more.

Smith proposed that he and the city could work on an agreement, such as to ensure the business doesn’t take up too many parking spots during city meetings when people come downtown to go to neighboring city hall.

The council didn’t make any official decisions during the conversation at Tuesday’s meeting.

Corrected: February 11, 2023 at 1:16 PM MST
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Avon Theatre in Heber City had stopped operating. That theater is still showing movies Friday through Monday.
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