T.J. Kirkpatrick, Deseret News
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, right, accepts the Advocacy award from Mark Bouchard, with CB Richard Ellis, during the 15th annual Downtown Alliance Achievement Awards at the Marriott in Salt Lake City, Wednesday.

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a nationwide recession, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says progress downtown hasn't slowed down.

"If you look at the things going on downtown … the reality is that there is a plan for downtown, and we're filling in the pieces to make a constructive, vibrant downtown," the mayor said Wednesday.

Becker was one of several Salt Lake figures honored at the Downtown Alliance Achievement Awards. Award recipients were praised for their advocating or building the downtown environment.

While Becker, a recipient of the advocacy award, praised Salt Lake's recent economic progress, he said the heart of the growing area is City Creek Center, a 20-acre development owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including a mix of shops, offices, condominiums and apartments.

"City Creek is the keystone development for Salt Lake City," Becker said. "It's ideal for what the city wants … and it sets a whole new standard."

The LDS Church also was given an advocacy award for its work on City Creek and other downtown projects. Gary Porter, secretary to the presiding bishopric of the church, said City Creek has the full support of church leaders.

"This downtown is rising," Porter said.

O.C. Tanner and the new office building 222 Main were both honored for economic development. Bruce Bingham, a partner at Chicago-area Hamilton Partners, the developers of the building, said 222 Main enhances the vibrancy of an already dynamic, strong city.

"This is the beginning of greater things for Salt Lake City," Bingham said, adding that the environmentally friendly building with 400,000 square feet of column-free office space should bring more of the right businesses and developments to the city.

The Utah Jazz and Broadway shopping district were honored for adding to the lifestyle of downtown, and Zions Securities Corp. was given the Downtown Legacy Award for making what Downtown Alliance president and chief executive Lane Beattie called "major contributions for the valley and the state."

Overall, its security all adds to the success and promise of downtown Salt Lake City, Beattie said.

"There has never been a better time," he said. "As the world struggles through tough economic times, downtown Salt Lake leads the state and the country in economic growth."

e-mail: ashaha@desnews.com