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City Creek Center driving economic revival for downtown Salt Lake City

Published: Saturday, Sept. 5 2015 6:21 a.m. MDT

Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City  Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

City Creek Center map: Download PDF version

Top list: City Creek Center shops and stores

City Creek Center photo gallery: A view from demolition to construction in downtown Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY — City Creek Center opens next week and is estimated to generate $1 million in new sales tax revenue. But that direct financial impact is only part of the story of this years-in-the-making project to revitalize the downtown district.

Since the project was announced in October 2006, approximately 4,000 jobs were created, mostly in the construction field, according to Salt Lake economic development director Bob Farrington. Of those, about 2,000 positions will remain, he said.

"From the ongoing employment, all of those people will get a paycheck … spend it at a grocery store, do their shopping, buy a house or rent an apartment," Farrington said. "Indirect benefits of jobs circulate through the economy about two and a half times."

An aerial view shows the progress on the City Creek project in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday, May 26, 2011. Construction on the estimated $1.5 billion development is expected to be finished by March 22, 2012.  (Tom Smart, Deseret News/KSL Chopper 5) An aerial view shows the progress on the City Creek project in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday, May 26, 2011. Construction on the estimated $1.5 billion development is expected to be finished by March 22, 2012. (Tom Smart, Deseret News/KSL Chopper 5)

But City Creek will also be a selling point for Utah's tourism and hospitality industries, as well as stimulate the city's convention business.

"One of the perception issues we continue to address about Salt Lake is the perception that there is nothing to do," said Scott Beck, president and chief executive officer of Visit Salt Lake. "The enormity of the project is stunning to people who we bring to Salt Lake. The energy that 1 million people a year will bring to our downtown core will have a huge impact on our tourism and convention industry."

People like to go where people are, and the experience that will be City Creek — from the shopping, dining to the living — will be lively and full of people, he said.

"Every great city has a tourism, housing blended use nexus that makes it very interesting and becomes an anchor feature for the city," said Westminster economics professor John Groesbeck. "In Chicago, it's the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue. In New York, it's the Times Square area in Manhattan."

When City Creek Center opens it is estimated to generate $1 million in new sales tax revenue. But that direct financial impact is only part of the story of this years-in-the-making project to revitalize the downtown district. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) When City Creek Center opens it is estimated to generate $1 million in new sales tax revenue. But that direct financial impact is only part of the story of this years-in-the-making project to revitalize the downtown district. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Salt Lake City has Temple Square as a focal point, but now a shopping and living center drawing the attention of not just those in Utah, but also out-of-state visitors and business interests.

The numbers are impressive:

City Creek Center includes more than 700,000 square feet of retail space stretched across three blocks in the heart of downtown.

More than 80 stores and restaurants, including anchor stores Nordstrom and Macy's, are here.

536 apartments and condominiums are in place along South Temple and Main Street.

5,000 underground parking spaces are available, both residential and visitor parking.

A 30,000-square-foot fully retractable glass roof will protect shoppers in bad weather; a sky bridge spans Main Street; and a re-creation of City Creek, the stream that once flowed through the city, meanders through the property.

Construction workers watch as a skybridge is hoisted above Main Street and lowered in to place connecting the City Creek Center development in downtown Salt Lake City Sunday. (T.J. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News) Construction workers watch as a skybridge is hoisted above Main Street and lowered in to place connecting the City Creek Center development in downtown Salt Lake City Sunday. (T.J. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News)

"It gives an added reason for conventions to want to be in Salt Lake," Farrington said. "Convention delegates will love coming here because of this great new shopping experience that's located right across from the convention center."

He noted that convention attendees typically spend about $1,000 in a community when they come, "so if you had a 5,000 (person) convention that is a $5 million impact on the city," Farrington said.

Groesbeck said the next three to five years will offer a clearer picture of how the new development will impact the central business district, but the current picture seems promising as more businesses move into downtown.

The development has already begun to attract new proprietors along the central business corridor. According to data compiled by the Downtown Alliance, more than 20 new businesses have opened their doors in the Central Business District since January 2011 in addition to the 26 businesses that began operation in 2010.

Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Ray Francom opened his second Salt Lake barbershop at 154 S. Main in previously vacant space that was once part of the old Utah Theater. He said he chose the location because it offers a great chance to grow his business in an area that is expected to take off with the opening of the new shopping and residential development.

"The new mall … is really making people look at new opportunities down here," Francom said. "There are four new businesses in this building alone."

The proprietor of a neighboring local custom clothier, Beckett & Robb, said choosing a Main Street location for its first retail shop was "definitely because of City Creek."

"We have options to have stores anywhere we want, and City Creek will drive a lot of traffic," said co-founder Jason Yeats. "There is a revitalization going on downtown … but the community has got to be retrained that there are great (retail) options downtown and City Creek will be a huge part of that."

Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City  Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Grocery shoppers shop at the new City Creek Harmons store in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

While not every establishment is located in the direct vicinity of the City Creek project, much of the growth can be attributed to the construction of the new Main Street development.

"The reason so many businesses are moving back in on Main Street is the anticipation of City Creek opening," said Camille Winnie, community development director for the Downtown Alliance. "They are betting that (the center) is going to be beneficial to them."

In addition to the new residents, unofficial estimates forecast the number of annual visitors in the 15 million to 17 million range.

"Our hope is not only will (people) visit City Creek, The Gateway and the rest of the downtown businesses, that it creates a thriving business community all throughout downtown," Winnie said. "That's the hope and expectation that pretty much everybody has."

Shop interiors are under construction in preparation for the March 22 opening of the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, February 23, 2012.  (Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz, Deseret News) Shop interiors are under construction in preparation for the March 22 opening of the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, February 23, 2012. (Laura Seitz, Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The $1.5 billion mixed-use project was developed by City Creek Reserve Inc. — a for-profit real estate company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Project partner Taubman Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. will operate the retail portion of the project. The company currently operates 26 retail shopping centers across the country, with six others in development — including properties in Asia and Puerto Rico. To date, Taubman has invested about $76 million into the project.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, City Creek Center will be the only retail center opening in the U.S. in 2012.

Top list: City Creek Center shops and stores

City Creek Center photo gallery: A view from demolition to construction in downtown Salt Lake City

City Creek Center, a new shopping and dining destination opening in Salt Lake City on March 22, 2012, will transform the downtown retail landscape. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News) City Creek Center, a new shopping and dining destination opening in Salt Lake City on March 22, 2012, will transform the downtown retail landscape. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Story: Macy's anchoring City Creek Center

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