City Creek Center helping in downtown prosperity

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

West Elm will be opening Thursday, Oct. 11, at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A little more than six months after its grand opening, downtown Salt Lake City's newest retail shopping center is almost fully occupied.

Officials at City Creek Center said the development is 98 percent leased, and the remaining space could be filled in the near future.

With the announcement of several new tenants in the past few weeks, City Creek Center now has 106 retailers and restaurants on its roster, according to marketing director Dee Brewer.

On Thursday, City Creek will welcome its newest tenant, home furnishing retailer West Elm. The store will be the first West Elm in the United States to partner with local Etsy artists to sell Utah-made products.

The store will feature a collection of decorative accessories and art made by artists from the Salt Lake City area. In addition to West Elm, two other retailers and two new eateries also are setting up shop at City Creek.

Adjacent to the billion-dollar development, a new Starbucks Coffee Co. has opened on Main Street, along with the reincarnation of the Chalk Garden Co-op — a one-time staple retailer at Trolley Square that closed its doors in 2000.

Credit for the new businesses on Main Street can be attributed in part to the opening of City Creek Center in March and the volume of potential patrons now attracted to downtown.

Brewer said tourists coming from more than 50 miles away make up about 30 percent of the center's business. That, along with strong convention attendance, has helped bolster the center's sales in its early months of operation.

"Our retailers tell us that traffic and sales are above their expectations," he said.

With a few spaces still available, there is speculation about what other retailers could join the City Creek roster. Among the possibilities is the Apple Store, which announced in June it would break its lease at The Gateway and move to another location.

Brewer said no announcement has been made about a potential City Creek Center relocation, but added, "any shopping center in the world be thrilled to have an Apple Store."

Despite the loss of the Apple Store and other retailers such as Anthropologie, which recently relocated to the City Creek Center, The Gateway still has more than 100 shops and restaurants.

Downtown shopper Matt Jenkins said he still enjoys visiting the once premier local shopping destination.

"The crowds have died down (at The Gateway) a bit, but I hope people still (visit)," Jenkins said. "If they can do something to get some good attention down there, they'll be OK."

Brewer said the changes taking place at The Gateway and City Creek Center are "the evolution of downtown."

He said City Creek Center has contributed favorably to the downtown business "ecosystem." Managers of The Gateway, Brewer said, have an opportunity to reprogram in a way they have not done before.

"We want to see the entire ecosystem in downtown Salt Lake be successful," he said. "We want downtown to be a draw for the larger region."

City Creek Center is on track to attract 16.2 million visitors annually, Brewer said, which would definitely strengthen the economic environment of the entire Salt Lake community.

Citing the relatively vibrant economy of the Beehive State compared with other states in the region, Brewer said growth in Salt Lake City's central business district has greatly aided the success of downtown's most prominent retail development.

"The economy in Utah has been so strong, and that has certainly been a benefit to City Creek Center," he said.

"We are seeing growth in the greater downtown area," Brewer said. "That tells us about the impact that this investment here is having on the larger retail environment of downtown."

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com

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