City Creek Center driving economic revival for downtown Salt Lake City

Published: Saturday, March 17 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

City Creek Center map: Download PDF version

Top list: City Creek Center shops and stores

City Creek Center photo gallery: A view from demolition to construction in downtown Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — City Creek Center opens next week and is estimated to generate $1 million in new sales tax revenue. But that direct financial impact is only part of the story of this years-in-the-making project to revitalize the downtown district.

Since the project was announced in October 2006, approximately 4,000 jobs were created, mostly in the construction field, according to Salt Lake economic development director Bob Farrington. Of those, about 2,000 positions will remain, he said.

"From the ongoing employment, all of those people will get a paycheck … spend it at a grocery store, do their shopping, buy a house or rent an apartment," Farrington said. "Indirect benefits of jobs circulate through the economy about two and a half times."

But City Creek will also be a selling point for Utah's tourism and hospitality industries, as well as stimulate the city's convention business.

"One of the perception issues we continue to address about Salt Lake is the perception that there is nothing to do," said Scott Beck, president and chief executive officer of Visit Salt Lake. "The enormity of the project is stunning to people who we bring to Salt Lake. The energy that 1 million people a year will bring to our downtown core will have a huge impact on our tourism and convention industry."

People like to go where people are, and the experience that will be City Creek — from the shopping, dining to the living — will be lively and full of people, he said.

"Every great city has a tourism, housing blended use nexus that makes it very interesting and becomes an anchor feature for the city," said Westminster economics professor John Groesbeck. "In Chicago, it's the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. In New York, it's the Times Square area in Manhattan."

Salt Lake City has Temple Square as a focal point, but now a shopping and living center drawing the attention of not just those in Utah, but also out-of-state visitors and business interests.

The numbers are impressive:

City Creek Center includes more than 700,000 square feet of retail space stretched across three blocks in the heart of downtown.

More than 80 stores and restaurants, including anchor stores Nordstrom and Macy's, are here.

536 apartments and condominiums are in place along South Temple and Main Street.

5,000 underground parking spaces are available, both residential and visitor parking.

A 30,000-square-foot fully retractable glass roof will protect shoppers in bad weather; a sky bridge spans Main Street; and a re-creation of City Creek, the stream that once flowed through the city, meanders through the property.

"It gives an added reason for conventions to want to be in Salt Lake," Farrington said. "Convention delegates will love coming here because of this great new shopping experience that's located right across from the convention center."

He noted that convention attendees typically spend about $1,000 in a community when they come, "so if you had a 5,000 (person) convention that is a $5 million impact on the city," Farrington said.

Groesbeck said the next three to five years will offer a clearer picture of how the new development will impact the central business district, but the current picture seems promising as more businesses move into downtown.

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