Even with the global eye of the retail world watching, Wardell said she does not feel burdened by pressure. She said she is buoyed by the support offered by staff as well as the project's development partner, City Creek Reserve — the for-profit development arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I'm confident that we can deliver a world class to Salt Lake City," she said. "There are hundreds of people working on the start-up for the center. And that will continue for the next 30 days."
Although a number of retailers are leaving The Gateway for City Creek Center, Wardell believes both shopping centers will be able to coexist.
"I think it's natural that some retailers are attracted to this project and are going to want to move here from other locations," Wardell said. "What makes Salt Lake City such an attractive place to shop is that there are two downtown locations where people can choose to shop and dine. And we've said all along that there are some things that Gateway is going to have some things that City Creek Center won't offer."
She said the Gateway would still draw consumers for the Clark Planetarium, IMAX theater, Discovery Gateway children's museum and its proximity to Energy Solutions Area.
"Certainly, City Creek Center and Gateway are synergistic." she said.
Opened in Nov. 2001, the $375 million Gateway project, built by Salt Lake-based The Boyer Co., included 400,000 square feet of office space, 675,000 of retail and entertainment space, along with high-end condominiums and apartments.
At the time, critics argued that the new open air shopping center would pull business away from the independent "Main Street" shops, putting even more pressure on the already struggling central city shopping district. Now, the roles are reversed.
A spokesperson for The Gateway said despite some of the recent turnover, the development has successfully positioned itself as the premier shopping and dining destination in the Salt Lake region.
"We will continue to be an active lifestyle center serving the public seven days a week,' said director of marketing Heather Nash. "New retailers that will be opening soon include Bettie Page, Francesca's Collections and Epic Board Shop, and our leasing team continues to meet with local and national retailers and we will make announcements as these deals are finalized."
As for the progress of City Creek Center, Wardell said the project is on schedule for its expected March 22 opening date.
"It's sort of like waiting for Christmas to come when you're a child," she said. "We can hardly wait to get there."
Here are the names of retailers who have taken out improvement permits with Salt Lake City:
2. Abercrombie & Fitch
3. Aldo Shoes
4. Allen Edmonds
5. American Eagle
6. Ann Taylor
8. Banana Republic
9. Bauers Fashion Eyewear
13. Brighton Collectibles
14. Brooks Brothers
18. Clark's Shoes
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