Built-in consumer base helps City Creek flourish in hard times

Shoppers browse during a gala at City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Photo: Ravell Call

City Creek Center officials say a built-in consumer base and mixed-use development are what help the mall, located in downtown Salt Lake, flourish while others struggle to keep retailers.

“We have residents who live with us, we have office worker that are with us in the daytime and we’re located in the heart of the central business district,” Linda Wardell, general manager of the City Creek Center, said in a phone interview. “I come to work everyday knowing that we have a built-in shopping audience as part of this project, and that’s certainly a great boost to our sales.”

Despite market trends of shopping center vacancies, City Creek plans to add six new stores and restaurants to its growing list of retailers by the end of 2013.

Stores and restaurants coming to the center include West Elm, The Art of Shaving, Sprint, Johnny Rockets, Brio Tuscan Grille and Anthropologie.

Wardell says the mixed-use style of City Creek is likely what malls will be like in the future.

“I think it’s not only the future of shopping centers, but what you see in City Creek is likely the way urban design will be where you have these uses integrated together for the convenience of the consumer,” Wardell said.
There are some who haven’t needed to leave the City Creek Center for as many as 10 days because “they have everything they need right here,” Wardell said.

The vacancy rate for regional malls in the U.S. dropped 0.1 of a percentage point to 8.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012, according to a report from Reis, a real estate research company.

Though regional malls are outperforming neighborhood and community shopping centers, demand for space remains weak, said Reis Senior Economist Ryan Severino.

The $1.5 billion mixed-use development expects to meet its goal of between 14 million and 16 million shoppers this year, Wardell said. Retailers have told City Creek executives that the center has exceeded their expectations, she said.

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