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Few traffic and parking problems on City Creek's first day

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 4:47 p.m. MDT

Pay meters are maxed on Main Street during the opening day of the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City Thursday, March 22, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

City Creek Center map: Download PDF version

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SALT LAKE CITY — Waiting in line for 10 minutes didn't seem to bother John and Christine Gibby or their 3-year-old daughter, Anna.

For 9-year-old Lena Gibby, though, it had to seem like an eternity.

The Disney Store was the Centerville family's first stop at City Creek Center, the 23-acre downtown shopping center that officially opened its doors Thursday.

"She's really into princesses," Christine Gibby said of her older daughter.

The line into the Disney store waited along a rail on the second floor of the new mall.  But the traffic snarl there, and a few long lines during the lunch hour in the food court, appeared to be the only significant traffic backups.

Linda Wardell, City Creek Center's general manager, said Thursday afternoon that coordinated traffic and crowd-control efforts with Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Transit Authority were working, making the grand opening a pleasant experience for shoppers.

Wardell also said Thursday afternoon that the center was on pace to reach or exceed City Creek Center's projections of 50,000 visitors on opening day.

"Today is a dream come true for us," she said, "and we're looking forward to a great weekend ahead."

As of 1 p.m., the parking garage was roughly 70 percent full, officials said.

Robin Hutcheson, Salt Lake City's transportation director, said delays had been minimal on downtown streets as of Thursday afternoon.

Aside from some slow-moving traffic on South Temple — which was remedied by stationing a police officer there — things were going according to plan, Hutcheson said.

"We'll be continuing to monitor the situation and modifying things as needed," she said. "We're expecting a very full downtown."

Shoppers interviewed Thursday had nothing but positive things to say about City Creek Center.

"It's awesome," said Daniel McGinnis of South Jordan. "It feels like we're not in Utah anymore."

"It feels like Vegas," added Kaleigh Evans, also of South Jordan.

McGinnis said he liked the mix of enclosed and open-air shopping. City Creek Center's retractable roof was open Thursday, taking advantage of 70-degree temperatures.

Eric and Rose Ansah-Antwi of Eagle Mountain brought their two children to City Creek Center on opening day to be among the first to shop there.

"We're quite impressed," Eric Ansah-Antwi said. "We've been looking forward to this for a long time."

Christine Gibby said she expected the place to be packed — and it was — but that wasn't going to keep her away from being among the first to shop at City Creek Center.

She was most worried about traffic and parking, she said, although neither ended up being an issue.

"Parking was really simple," Gibby said, "and (downtown streets) didn't feel more crowded than normal."

Several shoppers echoed that opinion, saying they were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get around downtown and find a place to park.

Cristina Lawrence and her daughter, Courtney, drove into Salt Lake City 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."

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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