Ravell Call, Deseret News
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SALT LAKE CITY — After years of anticipation, downtown Salt Lake City's newest crown jewel of shopping and economic development opened to the world Thursday with the parting of its signature retractable roof inviting in sunshine, shoppers and the just plain curious.
Dozens camped overnight, lining up along Main Street. Others came in on TRAX, with teenage girls mixing with corporate types as they departed the City Center station to jobs, or now, H&M, Nordstrom, or the 90 other stores and restaurants that make up City Creek Center.
By day's end, City Creek officials predicted the center would meet or exceed the prediction of 50,000 first-day visitors, and they arrived without traffic snarls or significant delays. An indication of the day's success: 75,000 directories were handed out to visitors to help guide them through City Creek during the day.
"This is a momentous day and a momentous time in Salt Lake City," Mayor Ralph Becker said. "This development is unique in America. It is a place where people can live, can work, can shop, can entertain, be entertained and gather."
His comments came in ceremonies formally opening the center shortly before 10 a.m., that included state and local government officials, as well as Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his counselors in the church's First Presidency.
It was President Monson's predecessor, President Gordon B. Hinckley, who first envisioned and proposed the project more than a decade ago to revitalize the city and "protect the environment of the Salt Lake Temple."
Speaking on behalf of the church, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said City Creek is now ready to invite the world to downtown Salt Lake City.
"Everything that we see around us is evidence of the long-standing commitment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City," he said. "Downtown, thanks to so many, is indeed rising."
Taubman Inc., the owner of the retail portion of the project and the church's partner in City Creek, will oversee the operations for the stores and restaurants in the estimated $1.5 billion mixed-use development.
"We are just thrilled to open our first shopping center in the great state of Utah in Salt Lake City," Robert Taubman, president, chairman and chief executive officer of Taubman Centers, said. "We are very proud of the shopping environment we've created."
So were the shoppers who made the trek into Salt Lake City.
• Godiva opened and sold 1,000 pieces of chocolate.
• Footlocker reported one of the best openings ever had by any of its stores across the country.
• Lush, an international retailer of unique bath and beauty products, sold 350 "bath bombs" within 5 hours.
Cristina Lawrence and her daughter, Courtney, drove in from Kaysville and parked in City Creek Center's 5,000-stall underground parking garage.
"I don't know if we lucked out, but we found (a parking spot) right away," Lawrence said.
Lisha Wood, a Provo native who now lives in Seattle, also had little trouble finding a place to park.
"There was plenty of parking," Wood said. "And the parking garage is nice. The floors are so clean. I was impressed."
There are 5,000 covered parking stalls spanning 4 levels, with six entrances, among the 15,000 parking spaces around the downtown core, many established in support of the City Creek development.
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