But with more than 500 new residential units, light-rail, and the recently opened Harmons Grocery on 100 South, the city center has become a live-work environment that encourages walking.
"We have much to be proud of associated with this development," Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said. "We hope everyone will come out and enjoy it … throughout the region and help us celebrate downtown rising and the incredible experience and renaissance we're going through in Salt Lake City."
Hundreds of small groups gathered throughout the day around the fountain, drawing children to its dancing waters. Others grabbed lunch at the food court and headed outside to eat on the cushioned chairs that surround the fire pit, or in the courtyard dotted with chairs and tables.
Angelica Rojas, from West Valley City, lined up outside H&M at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and stayed all night. "(City Creek) will draw a lot of people to Utah and bring more money to the state," she said.
Salt Lake City residents were equally enthusiastic.
"It's a smart thing to have because a lot of travelers that go to Temple Square can come over here. It has a lot of the high-end stores that Utah doesn't have that will be a big draw for a lot of people," said Dustin Mack, who was also waiting for stores to open early today. "This is new age. This is cool."
Gov. Gary Herbert predicted the project would aid in transforming and revitalizing the city:
"This is going to be an asset to our entire state … throughout the Intermountain West and throughout the country. This is a milestone and part of a new beginning for our downtown rising in Salt Lake City."
The Olympic Games 10 years ago brought economic vitality and the same sense of pride on exhibit Thursday. But the event came and went in a few short weeks. Taubman officials called the development of City Creek an economic driver that would last for years to come.
"This is the beginning of a rebirth, a redevelopment and a reinvestment in the city," he said. "This decision (to build City Creek Center) will really enhance and pay dividends for many generations for all the people of Salt Lake City and the state of Utah."
The retail and dining portion of City Creek Center features outdoor walkways, retractable roofs, a pedestrian bridge over Main Street and a creek that winds through the property.
Dale Bills, spokesman for City Creek Reserve Inc. — the property developer owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — said extra customer service personnel were on hand Thursday to "make sure everything goes as smooth as possible and people are comfortable getting in and out."
Ultimately, it was up to the visitors to offer the first-day assessment of City Creek:
"This is awesome for Salt Lake," said Daniel Joseph, who lives in the city. "It's going to bring a big-city feel. It's good."
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