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SALT LAKE CITY — The clock is now literally ticking on the much-anticipated completion of downtown Salt Lake City's largest ever commercial and residential development.
Countdown clock unveiled
City Creek Center developers Tuesday unveiled the formal countdown clock that will constantly remind passersby of the impending grand opening scheduled for March 22, 2012.
"(One year from today), we will celebrate the grand opening of City Creek Center and the resurgence of downtown Salt Lake City as the place to shop, dine, work, play, live and relax," said Linda Wardell, the project's retail general manager.
There is a construction schedule and there are people who are monitoring that schedule by the day (and) by the hour making sure we are right on track.
–Wardell Linda, City Creek Project
Designed by Salt Lake City-based Corporate Staging, the 8-foot-tall clock is made from aluminum and mounted on a 4,000-pound concrete base that can withstand extreme temperatures and winds up to 90 mph. The clock is equipped with a high-intensity LCD countdown display.
As for the overall project, approximately 1,200 construction workers will spend the next 12 months putting the finishing touches on the estimated $1.5 billion development.
When completed, City Creek Center will feature an estimated 800,000 square feet of shopping and dining space. The 23-acre development will include a mix of residences, retail and office space.
Additionally, among the unique features of the project will be a fully retractable glass roof, a skybridge over Main Street and a realistic re-creation of City Creek — the snow-fed stream that once meandered through the city.
"Construction on the retail center is about 80 percent complete," Wardell said. "The retractable glass roof is 90 percent complete."
The skybridge over Main Street is 75 percent complete, she said. And while there is still much work yet to be done, Wardell was confident the project will be ready in time for next year's planned opening.
"There is a construction schedule and there are people who are monitoring that schedule by the day (and) by the hour making sure we are right on track," she said.
The retail portion, which will be run by Michigan-based Taubman Centers Inc., will anchor the property's master plan developed by City Creek Reserve Inc. — a real estate subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We went through the tough part. Now it will just be nice for people to see us again.
–Bart Stringham, Utah Woolen Mills
Taubman has never missed a scheduled opening date, Wardell said, and City Creek Center will be no exception.
"We're constantly trying to exceed our own expectations," she said. "We are actually right on schedule."
Countdown has area businesses excited
For a lot of businesses in the area, the countdown really started about four years ago.
Literally in the middle of it all, historic Utah Woolen Mills is a survival story. Now, owner Bart Stringham is eager to be a part of something big.
"To look forward to more people actually accessing downtown, the future's bright," Stringham said. "We went through the tough part. Now it will just be nice for people to see us again."
He credits a handful of private parking spaces for keeping loyal customers coming, and the family business running.
We see a huge growth in our own company right now, and just imagine what will happen when the whole development is done.
–Brandon Price, Blue Lemon Restaurant
Stringham is also watching construction crews re-create open space near the site of the original Utah Woolen Mills store, on the old Richards Street.
Not far away, the Blue Lemon restaurant opened about a year ago. General manager Brandon Price is anticipating double the business a year from now.
"We see a huge growth in our own company right now, and just imagine what will happen when the whole development is done. It's fun to think about," Price said.
That excitement and confidence in the future extends down Main Street past 300 South. The owner of the one-stop-shopping wedding store The Bridal Mall picked this spot specifically anticipating City Creek's opening.
"We already have a feel for the excitement that City Creek is bringing the downtown area," said owner Carla Brown.
There are already shops open, and many people living in the residential parts of the development. It's easy to say City Creek is already having an impact on downtown.