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An Urban Renaissance Transforms Downtown Salt Lake

Published: 01/18/2012
Salt Lake City (January 2012) -- A new urbanism is at work in downtown Salt Lake with a massive reinvention that will undoubtedly be a game changer for residents and visitors alike.

In March of 2012, 165 years since the founding of the city by Mormon settlers (when it was still part of Mexico), a new breed of city dwellers and tourists will experience a dynamic, walkable downtown where residents have returned to live, work and play. A 23-acre, multi-billion dollar project called City Creek Center is at the heart of the renaissance. Thanks to funding by partner City Creek Reserve, City Creek will open debt-free and is slated to be the first-ever Silver LEED Certified mixed-use development; a sustainably-designed, pedestrian community of residences, offices and retail stores across three expansive downtown blocks.

Other U.S. urban centers have been given a strong boost by mixed-use developments, such as Denver‘s Cherry Creek and West Palm Beach's City Place. By design, Salt Lake's City Creek Center will also radically reshape Salt Lake's urban core. Developed by Taubman Centers Inc., City Creek Center is adjacent to Temple Square and the Salt Palace Convention Center in the heart of downtown. This outdoor shopping center features fully retractable glass roofs to ensure a year-round, climate-controlled environment as well as a pedestrian skybridge over Main Street.

The pathways in and around City Creek have been strategically designed to make shopping, eating and strolling along the tree-lined streets an ideal experience for pedestrians. City Creek's unique mix of retail, restaurants, offices, condominiums and apartments is expected to revitalize downtown Salt Lake and turn it into a mecca for young professionals, empty nesters and visitors alike, drawn by the vibrant energy of the city's new nucleus. Combined with the recent openings of two groundbreaking museums, the Natural History Museum of Utah and The Leonardo, it's clear Salt Lake is in the midst of an urban Renaissance with a strong cultural slant.

Dinosaur fossils are just one of the many astounding exhibits at the newly opened Natural History Museum of Utah. The 161,000 square-foot, Gold LEED-Standard museum has eight permanent exhibit spaces featuring 1.2 million objects of natural history, and a 1,200 square-foot children's gallery. The Leonardo--inspired by namesake Leonardo da Vinci--is a visionary interactive museum of science, technology, and art, housed in the former SLC Public Library. The Leonardo offers visitors exhibits, dialogs, hands-on workshops, performances and major traveling exhibitions.

While the exceptionally wide streets of Salt Lake were originally designed to allow a team of four oxen pulling a wagon to effortlessly turn around, transportation of a different sort is on the minds of 21st century planners. By late 2012, visitors will be able to ride the new Utah Transit Authority Airport TRAX Line into the heart of downtown, a connection that will take 20 minutes to reach City Creek Center, the centerpiece of Salt Lake's dynamic downtown.

Visit Salt Lake is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Visit Salt Lake's mission is to improve the area economy by attracting and providing support to conventions, leisure travelers and visitors while being a leader in environmental responsibility. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown.