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Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5
The huge holes that marked the beginnings of City Creek project are filling up with buildings. Potential tenants are taking note and making inquiries.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake commercial broker puts it simply: "In the last year or so, the buzz has definitely gotten louder, and we do think that will continue."

Vasilios Priskos, owner of Salt Lake based InterNet Properties Inc., is talking about the effect of the giant City Creek project downtown. It's been visible for a long time now, and as it starts taking shape, the questions come up as to how it will affect surrounding businesses.

When The Gateway opened a decade ago, some businesses from the Crossroads and ZCMI malls, as well as several from Main Street, moved over there. That's common when there's a new development.

Retailers large and small, inside the state and out, are now starting to focus in on Salt Lake City and its "new kid on the block."

Priskos, who's been a part of Salt Lake's changing skyline for more than three decades, said, "We have a lot of new, small-business owners who have opened in downtown. But not until recently have we had such a demand, or inquiries should we say, from national tenants."

In the past year, nearly 40 new businesses opened in the downtown area — and more are on board for next year.

"People are always looking for sort of the new fun, cool, hip thing," said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance.

City Creek developer, Taubman Centers Inc., says its other properties around the country attract 10 million to 15 million visitors a year. Similar numbers could happen in Salt Lake City, and those visitors will spill over into the surrounding shopping areas.

Priskos said City Creek will become part of an interesting retail district, joining with It'll join with The Gateway, Main Street and Trolley Square.

"Each of those projects is uniquely different. A tenant on Main Street might not want to be in Gateway or might not want to be at a Taubman Center like City Creek. Other tenants in Trolley Square wouldn't want to be in any of those other projects," Priskos said.

So in terms of City Creek "cannibalizing" businesses from these other centers, Priskos doesn't expect it.

A spokeswoman for The Gateway said six of its retailers recently renewed leases and more are expected.

The challenge for business leaders in the years ahead will be to market all of these unique spots as one big retail area.

"I think the key for us is understanding what are the assets that we have currently and how do we maximize those," Mathis said, adding that Salt Lake is a regional shopping destination, attracting visitors from surrounding states.

"So what we really need to do is fulfill that obligation that we are a regional destination. The Gateway has a certain flavor, City Creek will have a certain flavor, the Broadway shopping district has a certain flavor. So we need to be a place that has something for everyone," Mathis said.

e-mail: kmccord@desnews.com