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Signs of life returning to downtown Salt Lake

By John Daley | Posted - Jul. 8, 2011 at 8:23 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- One of Utah's top gathering spots officially reopened Friday night, and it's the latest sign of big changes downtown. The newly revamped Gallivan Plaza kicked off its summer concert series in the heart of a resurgent Salt Lake City.

Downtown Salt Lake City is starting to bustle in a way it hasn't in a long time. New businesses are starting to open, big projects are nearing completion and there's a lot more to come.

Case in point are the renovations at the Gallivan Center--an expanded grass area, updated ice rink, new two-story building with banquet space and more permanent restrooms. It's an $8.5 million makeover, and the latest sign downtown is on a sharp upswing.

Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance, said, "We've been laying this foundation for many years, but we've hit this tipping point and we really are looking for expansive and explosive growth in the downtown area over the next two or three years."

At Mid City Salon, they've had their busiest year ever and are looking to expand soon. Nail technician Alyssa Brown said, "I think that downtown business has been picking up a lot. So it's really good. It was pretty slow for a while, but with all the new things coming up, it seems to be getting busier."

National men's clothing chain Jos. A. Bank recently opened a flagship store in a historic building on Main Street. "They wanted to open this store to have a presence here, knowing City Creek is going to open up. We wanted to be in a position to take advantage of that from the first day, and so here we are," manager David Lott said. "We're doing way better than we had expected."

Crews are putting the final few months of finishing touches on the massive City Creek project, which is already leasing apartments, with condos ready soon. A downtown Harmon's grocery store also opens early next year. The Leanardo, science, tech and arts center opens in the coming weeks, along with the rebuilt North Temple viaduct, a crucial link to the west side. And even more projects are in the works.

"We've got plans for a year-round public market, for a convention center hotel, for the Utah Performing Arts Center," Mathis said. "We're talking about a film and media center in the old Utah theater."

Saturday the Downtown Alliance will host a tour of all the things happening downtown. It will leave from the farmer's market in Pioneer Park at 10 a.m.

Friday's free concert featured performances by the Grammy Award-winning Sam Bush Band, among others. Other big acts coming this summer include B.B. King, Adele and Willie Nelson.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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