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“If it doesn’t look like it is progressing and moving forward, then people perceive that the community is decaying and they’re not going to invest in a community that’s in decay,” Christopulos says.
Spurring New Growth
Revitalization of downtown areas extends right to Utah’s capital city. Salt Lake City is putting the finishing touches on the City Creek Center, which is set to officially open this month. The 20-acre project converted the former site of ZCMI Center and Crossroads Mall into a walkable urban community just south of Temple Square.
It cost nearly $2 billion to design and construct City Creek Center. The open-air development features a mix of high-rise apartments and condos, office space and retail shops. Many pleasing aesthetic features such as fountains and open plazas were added to create a pedestrian-friendly destination in the heart of downtown Salt Lake.
The impact on the rest of downtown is already being felt says Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. Mathis notes that approximately 60 new storefront businesses have opened in downtown locations over the past two years in anticipation of the opening of City Creek Center.
“Main Street was written off several years ago as being dead,” Mathis says. “There’s a resurrection that’s taken place along Main Street. Every storefront from 100 South to 400 South that can be occupied is being occupied. There are a few little holes to still fill in, but the street is nearing full occupancy with storefront retail businesses and offices in Class A office space.”
A commitment to build City Creek Center spurred other redevelopment projects in downtown Salt Lake City. By the end of 2013, a new federal courthouse and a new public safety building are expected be completed. Other future projects include a new Utah Performing Arts Center, renovations to the Utah Theater and a year-round public market.
“The City Creek Center is not a bookend,” Mathis says. “It’s really more of a milestone in the development of downtown.”
This sentiment is shared by local leaders in other Utah communities, leaders who aim to make their redevelopment projects part of a longer-lasting urban renaissance.