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With features such as two 18-foot waterfalls, fountains for water and fire shows, a trout pond and massive retractable roofs, Taubman Centers is striving for a "wow" factor at its City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
The shopping center owner and operator provided the first public glimpse Tuesday of the 700,000-square-foot property, which is under construction and scheduled to open March 22, 2012.
"We're really trying to create the unexpected," said Ron Loch, vice president of planning and design for Taubman.
The center, anchored by Nordstrom and Macy's, will have an estimated 80 specialty stores and restaurants, including Tiffany & Co., Coach, Michael Kors and Cheesecake Factory. It's the only major mall of its size that's scheduled to open next year.
City Creek Center is bounded by State Street and West Temple and 100 South and South Temple. A sky bridge connects the two halves of the center over Main Street, and a stream that's a re-creation of City Creek runs through much of the property.
The center doesn't have the appearance of a traditional shopping mall, featuring instead extensive amounts of stone work, trees and native plants and grasses that are designed to help the creek environment look authentic.
Taubman, a prominent mall owner and developer, is building the mall in partnership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is constructing the overall City Creek development that spans two city blocks and includes offices, condominiums and apartments. Adjacent to the City Creek development will be a Harmon's grocery store that's set to open in spring 2012.
City Creek Center general manager Linda Wardell said Tuesday that the center is firmly on schedule for its debut next spring. The food court is open, as is Deseret Book and Blue Lemon eatery. Most of the common areas and features are complete, such the sky bridge over Main Street, the creek that winds its way through the mall and retractable roofs on each side of Main Street that open and close in less than five minutes based on the weather to create a climate-controlled environment.
Two dozen tenants are building out their interior spaces. They include Yankee Candle Co., children's apparel retailer 77kids by American Eagle, fashion retailer Brooks Brothers/Brooks Brothers Women, apparel chain The Limited, skincare and cosmetics companies L'OCCITANE and LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, and jewelers Swarovski and Pandora.
Locations for two restaurants Texas de Brazil Churrascaria, a steakhouse that will open its first restaurant in Utah and Cheesecake Factory, which will open its second are under way, as well.
Although the mall is designed to cater to Utahns, including those who work and live downtown, the property also expects to attract many tourists because of its proximity to the Salt Lake City Temple and Salt Palace convention center. To that end, the mall will feature a customer service booth that enables travelers to check on the status of their flights out of Salt Lake City International Airport and the weather in their destination cities. It also will offer lodging and shopping packages and special promotions aimed at out-of-state visitors.
"It's definitely going to take our community to a whole new level in terms of a shopping experience," said Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, which promotes downtown Salt Lake City.
That said, he hopes the crowds that will be drawn to the City Creek opening will help all downtown-area merchants and restaurants. Some have struggled in recent years.
"We'd really like to leverage the excitement about City Creek to benefit the entire downtown," Mathis said. "We want people to not only visit City Creek Center, but broaden their horizons to experience the rest of their urban center."
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City Creek Center by the numbers
700,000 square feet of retail space
5,000 parking spaces in underground garage
2,000 jobs once the center is open
9 food court eateries (2-3 more will be added)
1,000 seats in the food court (another 150 seats outdoors)
80 retailers and restaurants, including Nordstrom, Macy's Tiffany & Co.
4 1/2 minutes to close the retractable roofs for climate control
2 18-foot waterfalls