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Meridian Magazine
Friday, March 23 2012

The New City Creek Center Dazzles

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By Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor

  The City Creek Center, at the heart of Salt Lake City directly across from Temple Square and the Church Administration Building, is simply gorgeous. When it opened yesterday, March 22, thousands of visitors from near and far came to see the 700,000 square foot shopping center, the core of the largest mixed-use downtown redevelopment project in the nation.   Though City Creek Center is owned by Michigan-based Taubman associates, it is part of the 23-acre master plan developed by City Creek Reserve, Inc., a business arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Office buildings and condos are part of the mix, and already the housing is almost at 100% occupancy.   According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, City Creek Center is the first enclosed regional shopping center to open in the United States in six years.   The City Creek Center takes in the blocks that used to hold the ZCMI Center and Crossroads Mall, which were demolished to build this vibrant new center which promises to revitalize and reinvent Salt Lake’s downtown.   “People will be coming here again,” said one woman shopper, exultant to see the vibrant downtown.   Indeed they will because every effort has been made to make the center architecturally vibrant and play upon the culture and nature of Utah to capitalize on the best of the state.

With a name like City Creek, it is not surprising that water is a theme in the center. Here is one of two 18-foot waterfalls that tumble over stones to grace the environment.

 

Robert S. Taubman, Chairman, President and CEO of Taubman said that this center is “absolutely unique and will have benefits to Salt Lake City for generations to come as it attracts other businesses to downtown Salt Lake.” Already a theater and more condos are being planned by various developers. Linda Wardell, General Manager of City Creek Center, is pictured on the left.

The water falls bring a liveliness and beauty to the center as they spill over the red rocks.

Five major wraps on downtown skyscrapers announce the grand opening of City Creek Center. The last time major wraps were used in Salt Lake was during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

City Creek Center features a retractable glass ceiling, here seen as it is closing. It is the only one like it in the United States and helps keep the shoppers happy with an ideal temperature. Workers were everywhere putting the final touches on the center while the press were given a VIP tour.

City Creek was designed to open up the blocks with pathways through. Here is a view of a new Cheesecake Factory with the former Deseret News building on the next block in full view.

Looking north from the Food Court is a perfect view of the Church Administration Building (the gray granite building with the columns) and the Church Office Building (the large skyscraper in the background).

The shopping area features places for 100 stores, 95 of which are already filled with 92 open. Chocolate lovers rejoice, Godiva is here and so is Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Now that’s a strawberry!

Vintage touches were added to City Creek Center to remember the nostalgia of another era. Here City Creek is written on a black lamppost that arrives from a different era.

Even Native Americans make an appearance at City Creek in a nod to Utah’s frontier past.

A re-creation of the original City Creek (that was so familiar to all the pioneers) meanders for 1200-feet through the stunning mixed-use complex. The sound of water can be heard everywhere you turn.

Crystal-clear water will be running through this shopping center past rocks and reeds and native flora. The creek adds such a delight to the shopping experience.

Now that is a nice Customer Service area! Who has a waterfall coming out of the back of their desk area? Customer Service at City Creek Center!

Numerous small bridges allow shopper and strollers to cross the creek anytime. It is never a barrier, just a delight.

The entire shopping complex is dog-friendly with 80% of the stores welcoming canines. The stores that allow dogs will have a little doggy sticker at the entrance. This small statue sits atop the courtesy doggy-bag dispensers so one can all-the-more-easily clean up after the dog.

The indoor/outdoor feel in City Creek Center in phenomenal. Mr. Taubman said over and over again to the press, “Look all around you. Look in every direction. Don’t miss the beauty that is everywhere designed here.” He was right. This place is beautiful.

More than 30 of the new stores that have just opened are new and unique to Utah. Who has ever heard of a mall opening with 95% occupancy? This is a sign of real confidence on the part of the retailers and the developers.

Crossing Main Street between the two parts of City Creek Center reminded us of the proximity of the Salt Lake Temple—just part of a block away. When we got to the other side of the street, we heard one of the press point to the statue at the head of Main Street and ask, “Who is that?” Another media guy said, “I have no idea.” Scot cut in and said, “That is Brigham Young. By tradition his back is to the Temple and his hand is outstretched to the bank.” They both got a chuckle out of that. At least they knew now who he was!

The old ZCMI façade has been restored to its original beauty and grandeur. Here you can see another of the giant wraps on the skyscrapers of Salt Lake marking the opening of City Creek Center. Notice the TRAX just going by in the foreground.

This 140-foot sky bridge connects the east and west blocks of the twenty-three acre development and makes for a weather-free connection between the mass of stores.

With the addition of the City Creek Center, the downtown area of Salt Lake City is likely the most vital and vibrant of any downtown area in the nation.

The day will come when this will become an historic sign.

The meandering stream that traverses the entire mall is a tribute to the south fork of the creek that once coursed through the downtown and was the original water source for the early farmers in the valley. The Utah sandstone boulders throughout are a reminder of the Great Basin geology and dominant red rocks.

The immense retractable roof (unlike any other in the nation) is about ¾ of an acre of glass that controls the environment of the city center. There are over 550 apartments (some pictured here) in the complex. Nearly 100% of them are already leased. The energy costs are about 50% less in the apartments because of the skylight.

All the walkways in the City Creek Center are heated so that guests can enjoy winter shopping without slipping on ice or coating their shoes with salt.

Beautiful cut flowers were everywhere to celebrate the grand opening.

The center features lively fountains, including three by WET Design, creators of the famed Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. “Flutter” mesmerizes with dancing fire on sheets of water spilling out in the shape of bells in a fusion of pyrotechnics and nature.

“Transcend” delights and entertains with musically choreographed displays using the elements of fire and water, and spewing streams of water upward in playful, airborne patterns.

“Engage” (not shown here) invites children to interact with its animations.

Mr. Robert S. Taubman, Chairman, President and CEO of the development group gave us the tour of the new center. He said that those five million visitors “across the street” (at Temple Square) can now extend their visit and their delight in seeing downtown Salt Lake City.

One of the things we loved about City Creek Center was the hundreds of places to sit down and relax. The place is naturally designed for conversation, reading, relaxation and, of course, for people gazing.

Whoever lives in these apartments (please note the roof is now nearly retracted) will certainly be close to shopping to their heart’s content. And an enormous Harmon’s Grocery Store was just completed a block from the east end of the Center.

Upscale stores abound in the new City Creek Center, including Banana Republic, 77Kids by American Eagle, ALDO, Allen Edmonds, Al Rounds Studio (our good friend), Bose, Clarks, Disney, Farr's Fresh (yum), Forever 21, Gap, H&M, Kay Jewelers, Mr. Mac, Papyrus, the immensely popular Restoration Hardware, Steve Madden, Yankee Candle Company and 77 other stores!

Everyone is excited about this store coming.

Even the light fixtures throughout the Center are pure class.

In the sky bridge across Main Street is a photograph showing Main Street from yesteryear. In some ways, it doesn’t look that much different from then.

Here is the same view as the photograph looking south on Main Street. Okay, so it does look a bit different.

An authentic, accurate scale map of Downtown Salt Lake City, circa 1871, is in the middle of the sky bridge and draws the gaze of many a passerby.

Looking north one can see the Salt Lake Temple and Ensign Peak (the rounded hill in the center of the picture)—the latter place where Brigham Young unfurled a banner—an Ensign to the nations.

These little vases of roses were everywhere throughout the Center on this night.

Every store brought their entire staff out to the grand celebration and treated every customer with such courtesy. We were delighted to go in as many stores as we could.

Macy’s and Nordstrom are the big anchors here in City Creek Center. Macy’s delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at more than 800 locations in 45 States. Macy’s is best known for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that we watch on TV each year (it's been going since 1924!).

The large outdoor fireplace, surely to become a meeting place of choice, is inscribed upon with writing from pioneer journals describing the original City Creek that flowed through downtown Salt Lake.

Here you can see the four-sided large fireplace (fire will always be burning within) and the large wrap on the Key Bank tower to the east of the Center.

The proximity to the Salt Lake Temple, The Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall, the Conference Center, the Church Administration Building and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building truly make this an incredible, stunning addition to the downtown Salt Lake City area—in fact—this IS now DOWNTOWN Salt Lake City, Utah!

What a delight at the end of our day to meet our friends, Colleen and Gary Worthington (pictured left) and Andrew and Shauna Smith, all owners of Kneaders Bakery and Café. Gary was with us in Haiti right after the earthquake and is one of the finest men we know. He and Colleen are the founders of Kneaders. The Smiths own a number of the franchises.

We told these four that with the placement of Kneaders about one block from the Salt Lake Temple, surely their place will become THE place to eat after a session or two at the temple. We always go to the same place to eat after the temple (when we can) and perhaps Kneaders will become one of those after-temple traditions in downtown Salt Lake City.

Watch for another photo essay on Monday of City Creek Center at night! You will come to love this place as we do.

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