A year later, City Creek revitalizes downtown

Published: Thursday, March 21 2013 7:55 p.m. MDT

Shoppers walk through City Creek Center in Salt Lake City Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams signed an agreement solidifying the city-county partnership to establish and maintain a new performing arts center in the heart of downtown.

The county’s Center for the Arts, which also owns and operates nearby Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, will run the new theater, scheduled to begin construction in 2014 and bring a $110 million venue to Main Street.

What sealed the deal?

City Creek Center, say city officials.

“But for City Creek Center, the city and county would not have moved forward with this new 2,500-seat, Broadway-style theater,” said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.  “Most of the good things that are happening in downtown are being driven by City Creek Center.”

The massive $1.5 billion project that brought hundreds of residential units and retail stores to downtown Salt Lake City celebrates the one-year anniversary of its opening Friday marking not just a new center, but a revitalized city core.

“To walk down Main Street today … you see four or five storefronts that are being built, and everything else is full,” Mathis said. “Over the past few years, there have been hundreds of new businesses that have opened up.”

The 222 South Main office tower was completed in December 2009 and is showing an increase in occupancy. Another soon-to-be developed office project at 100 South and Main Street is planned. That corner is also the home of The Chalk Garden, locally owned high-end fashion and jewelry that first made its name in Trolley Square more than three decades ago and opened during the past year.

The store has been at its current location for about seven months, and there is optimism about the long-term future for the area around the new development.

"We are continuing to grow and benefiting from being associated with City Creek," said Willard Cron, Chalk Garden men's department assistant manager. "We're making better and better profits every day."

The financial impact of City Creek Center continues to be measured and specific figures are elusive. Sales tax numbers for 2012 are expected by midsummer. But other measurements show some winners and areas, such as residential sales, where demand has not caught up with supply.

City Creek mall opened with 95 stores. Today it includes 109 retail tenants with additional restaurant openings scheduled this year. Representatives of Nordstrom, an anchor tenant, and high-profile jeweler Tiffany each declined to divulge specific data on their first year’s sales. But both expressed satisfaction with the initial 12 months in the new space.

“Our ability to bring a designer offering to Salt Lake City has been really well-received by our customers,” Colin Johnson, Nordstrom spokesperson, said. “We are thoroughly encouraged by our results so far.”

He said the store has performed “particularly well and has exceeded our expectations.”

As for Tiffany, the New York-based jewelry maker also offered general praise.

“We’ve had a great welcome into the Salt Lake market,” said Julie Peterson, director for Tiffany & Co. Salt Lake. “We feel like we’ve been well supported and the store is doing well.”

Residential units

City Creek Center’s residential component, built by City Creek Reserve, the for-profit development arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has had similar success, according to spokesman Dale Bills.

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