Laura Seitz, Deseret News
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SALT LAKE CITY — Next month Salt Lake City is expected to finally celebrate the grand opening of the state's most highly anticipated retail project in more than a decade. City Creek Center is scheduled to open its doors March 22.
During an exclusive tour for the Deseret News and KSL on Thursday, work crews clad in orange and green vests with hard hats stood on ladders and wielded tools — the sound of saws, drills and hammers echoing throughout the property. The workers could be seen moving in and out of the area as they bring in interiors for the retail stores now under construction.
While the vast majority of the construction work is complete, crews are still busy building out the individual retail spaces and putting the final touches on the remaining unfinished public areas from early in the morning to late at night.
City Creek general manager Linda Wardell said that despite the long hours, there is a great deal of enthusiasm and anticipation from staff and workers about the impending grand opening.
"We've been working on this project for a long time and to know that it is just ... days away from opening," she said. "We're just so excited!"
The architectural details in the public areas show an artistic design that incorporates the unique natural beauty that signifies Utah — use of large red rock to create a comforting desert landscape where visitors will enjoy scenic sky-lit views whether the retractable roof is open or closed.
In the coming weeks, the various fountains will be tested, including one that will have a fire feature as well. Wardell said the center's giant granite fireplace is also ready.
She said the feature, set just inside the South Temple entrance, was designed to serve as one of the major meeting areas of the center. People will say, "Lets meet by the fireplace," Wardell predicted.
As for the retail space, shopping center officals said leasing for the downtown mall is now 92 percent complete. Taubman Inc., the company that manages the retail portion of the project, said it will release the names of the approximately 80 stores that will be in the shopping center on March 1, in anticipation of a month-long marketing campaign marking the center's opening.
But 66 stores and 9 restaurants are publicly listed with Salt Lake City seeking building improvement permits at the City Creek site.
High profile retailers such as Coach, Brooks Brothers, and Tiffany & Co will join well-known chain eateries like Cheesecake Factory and Texas de Brazil Brazilian steakhouse at the estimated $1.5 billion, 700,000-square-foot shopping and entertainment center.
Other companies listed with the city are Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and BCBG — clothing companies bookended by anchor retailers Macy's and Nordstrom's.
Disney will be there, and J.Crew, Express and Fanzz. Footlocker and Aldo will offer footwear; Forever 21 will appeal to — those who are forever 21. Restoration Hardware is moving from Trolley Square, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate has taken out a permit. Employees of Mr. Mac were moving merchandise from its store on South Temple to its new location in City Creek.
Taubman showed the first signs of its marketing campaign last week as it unveiled billboards and building wraps on display in and around the downtown area. It's a strategy designed to "generate the most buzz" about the historic project, Linda Wardell, City Creek Center general manager, said.
City Creek Center has drawn the attention of retail analysts nationally and internationally as one of the only major retail projects going online in the U.S. in 2012.
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