City Creek Center a step toward downtown revitalization?

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The City Creek Center is wrapping up its first weekend in business with big crowds and bigger sales. And the overall impact could lead to a revitalization of the downtown area.

In 1999, the Salt Lake City Council commissioned a study by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research about the impact The Gateway would have on Main Street and its two indoor malls, the ZCMI Center and Crossroads Mall.

"What we found, it was going to compete as well as complement," said Jim Wood, the bureau's director. "But that's the nature of downtown businesses."

Now, the privately-funded City Creek Center has opened where ZCMI and Crossroads once stood.

"Whatever happens, really, this has been the catalyst," said Robert Taubman, the CEO of Taubman Centers, Inc., City Creek's owner. "This has been a great beginning of the rebirth of this city."

U. researchers said The Gateway will likely see some business siphoned away by City Creek Center. But both shopping centers, and downtown Salt Lake City in general, face an even bigger threat.

"Retail for the last many years has been under intense competition from the suburbs," Wood said.

But things have changed, too. Since the days of The Gateway, ZCMI and Crossroads, Salt Lake City has gone from approximately 1.2 million square feet of retail space to 700,000 between City Creek Center and The Gateway.

The appeal of the two shopping centers can work to the city's favor to lure suburbanites back downtown, Wood said.

"This is an opportunity now for the city to really capture a little bit greater share of the county's retail," he said.