The business of building a city: Downtown Rising

Friday, July 19th, 2013

Editor’s note: this post is authored by Darin Mellott, senior research analyst at CBRE and a member of the Utah Economic Council. It was originally published on ksl.com

Tuesday I attended the inaugural downtown symposium which was organized by the Downtown Alliance. There was much to celebrate in the way of accomplishments at the symposium. However the Salt Lake Chamber’s President and CEO, Lane Beattie, asked a very important question: what comes next?

Anyone living, working or spending significant amounts of time in downtown Salt Lake City can attest to the significant amount of change and progress experienced in the area during the last several years. From new office towers to City Creek Center, Salt Lake’s downtown not only looks different, but feels different. It can also be said that people are looking at downtown in a different way than they have in the past.

Inspired by my own experiences and the symposium, allow me to approach the topic of downtown from my area of expertise: commercial real estate. Professionals at the firm where I work (CBRE) inform me that while consulting with their clients, more businesses are asking themselves whether or not they should be downtown. This is an important observation, because there is a convergence of need and capacity.

In the office sector, an uptick in organizations searching for larger blocks of space has been observed. While there are areas of high vacancy, blocks of contiguous space can be challenging to find, especially when factoring in the unique needs of certain companies. Due to tenants using space more efficiently and some relocations, larger blocks of space are available in downtown Salt Lake City.

In addition to the raw space requirements, businesses are sensitive to quality of space. As organizations are becoming more attuned to the needs and preferences of “Gen Y”, overall office environment is becoming more important. Areas with a “cool” factor are in high demand and maintain lower vacancy rates. Not only is the area’s reputation improving, but there is a cool factor to being downtown again.

Furthermore, as businesses continue to operate in an uncertain environment, expenses are in focus. From a commercial real estate perspective, companies are looking to increase productivity and maintain lower costs. This is accomplished through new workspace strategies. While these strategies re-imagine what the workplace should look like, they are also advantageous to businesses because space is used more efficiently.

This is where public transportation becomes more important. Access to public transportation is now a common requirement for tenants. With higher concentrations of employees, parking becomes an issue. Locations with sufficient parking for such requirements are in low supply. Consequently, organizations looking to increase the density and efficiency of workplaces are becoming more aware of the challenges presented by new strategies.

Public transportation is an important component of efforts to address the challenge of accommodating more employees in smaller amounts of space. With multiple TRAX lines (including connectivity to an international airport), FrontRunner and bus connections, accessibility to downtown is unmatched. These are just a few of the trends moving forward that will favor downtown Salt Lake City from a commercial real estate perspective.

Aside from commercial real estate, downtown Salt Lake has so much going for it. I always marvel at the majestic backdrop of Salt Lake, with the Wasatch Mountains towering over the city. When I travel, I enjoy the connectivity enjoyed as a hub city of one of the world’s largest airlines. My easy commute is possible because of strategic investments in infrastructure. Furthermore, the local area’s economy continues to perform well, adding to a vibrant feel in the community and enabling continued progress.

Going back to its beginnings, Salt Lake City has a tradition of moving beyond challenges to a level of admirable success. However, Lane Beattie’s rhetorical question remains valid: what’s next? That’s the question of the day. As Lane correctly pointed out, there are no guarantees for the future.

Fortunately, a collaborative spirit seems to be embedded in the city’s DNA. The kind of cooperation and coordination that made the 2002 Winter Olympic Games a success is still here. While we can be proud of the city’s past achievements, I was reminded that a focus on the future must be maintained. The ingredients for success are here on a practical and conceptual level.

Now it’s time to take advantage of current opportunities and imagine the future. There are many decisions that need to be made and issues addressed, whether talking about a convention hotel, investments in infrastructure (particularly transit) and of course, education.

All of these things will determine the future ability of the city to continue thriving. In my opinion, not only does Salt Lake City have the ability to grow and prosper, but this city and state serve as remarkable examples of what can happen when reasonable people work together for the common good.

 

“For the Love of Cities” author shares thoughts on SLC

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Peter Kageyama is the author of, “For the Love of Cities,” a look at creating what he calls a “love affair between people and their places.”

Tomorrow he will keynote the Downtown Alliance, Downtown Symposium tomorrow and he joins us today.

In this video, Kageyama discusses the one percent of people who make cities great, the importance of bikes to a downtown area and finding love notes.

You can also check out his TED Talk below.

City Creek Center earns high praise

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Just in case you missed the news on Tuesday, City Creek Center received a significant award. Below is the Chamber’s statement:

Chamber congratulates Taubman on City Creek Center honors

SALT LAKE CITY- (Jan. 15, 2013) The Salt Lake Chamber, Utah’s largest and longest-serving statewide business association, congratulates Taubman Centers and City Creek Reserve, Inc. for City Creek Center being named the “Best Retail Development, USA” in the International Property Awards for 2012. City Creek Center also placed among the top three in the broader “World’s Best Retail Development” category.

“City Creek Center has been a remarkable addition to a downtown on the rise,” said Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie. “This well-deserved award recognizes an amazing urban center and Taubman’s commitment to retail excellence. We also acknowledge the vision and unwavering commitment to downtown of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

City Creek has provided a significant boost to Utah’s economy, currently the fifth strongest in the nation with the sixth lowest unemployment rate. Built during the Great Recession and opened March 22, 2012, City Creek is Utah’s largest privately-funded, mixed-use development. This project provided over 1,700 construction jobs and 2,000 retail jobs. In addition, the 536 residential units and 5,000 parking spaces benefit dozens of downtown businesses as visitors drawn to downtown by City Creek Center eat and shop throughout the central business district.

Downtown Salt Lake City is the regional center for culture, commerce and entertainment. A vibrant metropolitan center is an important economic engine for the entire region. Downtown Salt Lake City is the historic hub for employment, transportation, finance, legal work and the creative class. It also stands as the seat of local and state government and the headquarters of a world religion. City Creek is an important part of a state that has earned a reputation as a great place to live, work, eat and play.

 

Time for the downtown theater

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Editor’s note: This post was originally published as an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday, August 5, 2012. It is authored by Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance. 

Downtown Salt Lake City is in the midst of a remarkable transformation and this is a good time to think about the next phase of our city’s development. There is a growing consensus that the Utah Performing Arts Center will be built downtown in the next few years. This modern, 2,500-seat theater will attract a much larger array of touring Broadway shows, concerts, comedy acts and family shows.

The idea of a large civic theater has been discussed for decades and it’s hard to see our community prosper long-term without this amenity. Salt Lake is growing up and a performing arts center of this magnitude is part of the cultural landscape of any economically dynamic region. It is also an important financial engine that helps support our city’s creative class by attracting businesses and relocating professionals.

A performing arts center will help anchor the cultural core of our urban center, complementing other downtown institutions like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony and Opera, Ballet West, the resident companies of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and myriad art galleries. Downtown also has the facilities to accommodate large numbers of theater patrons, with multiple restaurants, convenient parking, public transit and thousands of hotel rooms.

The center’s proposed location at 100 South and Main Street is on land owned by the LDS Church and Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency. Nearly four years have passed since Mayor Ralph Becker, Gov. Jon Huntsman, and LDS Church Presiding Bishop H. David Burton announced the site. Since then, city leaders have carefully studied the impact of the center on other arts organizations, reviewed financing options, and developed a detailed and thoughtful plan.

In part, these plans use incremental property tax revenues, generated downtown and designated to redeveloping downtown, to help fund the new facility. As a result, no new taxes will be needed. In addition to supporting a more robust downtown while creating a regional cultural draw, the theater will improve sales and property values for existing properties, generating even more revenue for local and state tax coffers. What’s more, financial models show the center will also generate an annual income that can be used to help other arts facilities and organizations throughout our community.

Next week, the Salt Lake County Council will be considering a partnership with Salt Lake City to manage the facility and support the financing plan that has already received up to $18 million from Salt Lake City for design and development. The Downtown Alliance and Salt Lake Chamber strongly encourage county officials to partner with the capital city and operate this new facility as part of the county’s Center for the Arts portfolio of cultural amenities that includes Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre and the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

Great things are happening downtown right now with the opening of City Creek Center, The Leonardo and Gallivan Plaza. From thousands of new office workers at 222 South Main and Gateway Six, to new stores, galleries and restaurants on Main Street, Broadway and at The Gateway — our downtown is thriving.

Add in world-class ballet, opera and symphony, hundreds of new residents and record-setting crowds at festivals, markets and other events and you have a city center that is truly on the rise.

 

Done right, a convention center hotel will benefit the Utah economy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Editor’s note: This post was originally published as an op ed in the Deseret News, Tuesday, June 26. Photo courtesy visitsaltlake.com.

By Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber
and Jason Mathis, executive director of the Downtown Alliance

There are great things happening in our community.

With the opening of City Creek Center, downtown is undergoing an urban renaissance that includes dozens of unique small businesses, record setting attendance at community festivals, hundreds of new downtown residents and new corporations coming to town.

Developments like the Utah Performing Arts Center, Capitol Theatre renovation, TRAX light rail to the airport and availability of new restaurant liquor licenses, make this a good time to further develop our convention industry.  Airport accessibility, urban renewal, friendly people, affordability and a stunning natural backdrop should propel our convention business to even greater heights, paying economic dividends along the way. Conventions, and the hundreds of millions of out-of-state dollars they inject into our economy, are an integral part of our rising downtown.

There are many things the business community can do to bring more visitors to Utah. And many things we have already done. We support modernization of liquor laws that protect public safety and reinforce a welcoming and hospitable climate for tourism. We support the rebuild of the Salt Lake City International Airport and endorse the bid for another Olympic Winter Games. We actively work to enhance Utah’s reputation.

Another economic development tool available that will enhance Utah’s tourism industry is a convention center hotel. Many of our competing cities have one – Denver, Phoenix, San Antonio – and Salt Lake City should consider one as well. A large 1,000-room hotel, adjacent to the Salt Palace will generate more local and state taxes from out-of-state delegates, and bring more business to Utah restaurants, entertainment venues, transportation companies and retail stores. More citywide conventions filling the Salt Palace will ultimately also mean more guests spilling over to other hotels.

Even with the tangible economic benefits of a convention center hotel, there are legitimate questions about the public sector’s role in a project like this. Some competing destinations have used government credit or local tax dollars to finance the construction costs of a convention hotel. We do not think that is the appropriate approach for Utah.

There are several private investors who are ready to build this hotel. But before they commit hundreds of millions of dollars to a project like this, they need to understand what role, if any, the public sector will play. The Salt Lake County Council is considering hiring a consultant who would help develop a financing plan that limits public involvement. Financing major projects like this is complicated and it is helpful to have expert advice.

The Salt Lake Chamber spent nearly a year trying to understand the dynamics of a convention hotel. We convened a group of business leaders who visited convention hotels in other cities, reviewed relevant studies and met with local hoteliers. Based on this review, we support a convention center hotel so long as the financing is privately-led and other specific criteria are met. Public financial support for a convention center hotel should be devoted to a public purpose, be limited and consistent with financing used for other significant privately led projects in Salt Lake. We oppose using transient room taxes to help finance a convention center hotel.

State and local governments should also support policies that maximize promotional funds; enhance Utah’s reputation as a welcoming and hospitable state; create a lively arts, cultural and entertainment district downtown and maintain a first-rate public transit system.

We ask the Salt Lake County Council to proceed with a consulting contract to better understand financing options for a convention center hotel. This is the right time to focus on and invest in our tourism and convention industry and continue the positive momentum of a downtown on the rise.

City Creek Center opens in Downtown Salt Lake City

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Editor’s note: These are prepared remarks delivered by Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Lane Beattie at the opening of the City Creek Center.

This is a day of gratitude for Downtown Rising. And on behalf of Utah’s business community we say thank you.

Thank you to our friends at Taubman and City Creek Reserve for their vision, leadership and investment in this stunning new heart for our capital city.

Thank you to the thousands of worker who have labored so diligently to prepare for this day.

Thank you to the residents, retailers, restaurants and renters who will make this center come to life, and by extension, breathe new life into the rest of our capital city.

The impact of City Creek Center extends far beyond these two blocks.

You see it in the confidence of Hamilton Partners who built 222 South Main because they saw what was happening here, and knew that this is a city on the rise.

You see it in the new OC Tanner flagship store across State Street.

You see it in the new businesses streaming into Main Street, the Broadway District, along 100 South and at The Gateway.

This truly is a city on the rise.

And this rising tide extends beyond Salt Lake City.

You see it throughout the region – a sense of optimism and hope for the future, all inspired by this rising urban center.

And you see it in our future:  with plans for a performing arts center, privately-led convention hotel, public market, film and media center, new residences and new office towers all in the works.

All contributing to the growth of Utah’s capital city and the economic strength of the entire region.

We can see today, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Success has a thousand authors, and so to the thousands who have worked so hard to make this day a reality we say thank you.

Today doesn’t mark the end, but a new chapter in the storey of this great American city, our capital city, in the heart of the new American West.

Today we celebrate a downtown on the rise.

Downtown Rising anniversary ushers in City Creek Center

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Today we mark the fifth anniversary of the Downtown Rising vision. The plan we shared that day quickly became a movement and has since resulted in an unprecedented and unsurpassed renovation of our capital city.

Few and far between are the occasions when overstatement simply isn’t possible. For business in downtown Salt Lake City—tomorrow will be such a day.

After years of dedicated work and heightened anticipation, the City Creek Center will officially open. While the City Creek project was not part of the original Downtown Rising vision, it has become an important part of the fabric of our city.

The lesson: when we combine great vision with skill, industry and determination to elevate our community, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Throughout our history we have proven this time and time again. Industry, making something of great worth and benefit from the available resources, is in the very make-up of the people of this state.

As we open a new chapter in the long and rich history of Utah’s capital city, I express my admiration for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its unwavering dedication and unmatched contribution to Salt Lake City. I express appreciation for the Taubman Company for the new and critical role it will play in downtown.

To Nordstrom and Macy’s, we are grateful for your commitment to the city and to this project. You belong downtown, we are grateful you are here and we hope you always be a part of our community. We welcome the new retailers and restaurants to our city, as well.

To all the businesses that played a role in making the City Creek Center project evolve from a vision to a blueprint to a parcel of open land to a frame work and finally to the remarkable finished project we will open tomorrow, thank you all.

This is a great day for Salt Lake City.

Welcome to your new downtown

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

This is an important week for Downtown Rising. The opening of City Creek will transform our urban center, Salt Lake City and the larger regional economy. It also coincides with sold-out shows of Beauty and the Beast, Utah Symphony performances, the LDS general Young Women meeting, Tumbleweeds Film Festival and a Utah Jazz game. Wow! For anyone who has ever dreamed about a more vibrant city center, congratulations! Your dreams are about to come true.

And we are ready to welcome everyone. With 5,000 new parking spaces at City Creek and new street parking pay stations that accept credit cards, downtown is more accessible than ever. We’re encouraging everyone to use TRAX or other mass transit to get downtown. If you drive, we encourage you to park once and take advantage of the free fare zone. (CLICK HERE for more tips on getting to downtown and finding a space when you get here.)

Our friends at Taubman and City Creek Reserve deserve great credit for their vision, leadership and investment in building this new heart for our capital city. Thousands of construction workers, engineers, architects and planners have also worked very hard to make this center a reality. We are excited for Nordstrom, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co.  and all the rest of the new stores and restaurants, in addition to the remarkable architectural features of this new downtown asset.

The impact of City Creek Center extends far beyond 100 South. You see it in the confidence of Hamilton Partner’s brand new 222 S. Main building. You see it in the new OC Tanner flagship store across State Street. You see it in the new businesses streaming into Main Street, the Broadway District and along 100 South. We gladly welcome Pallet, Becket and Robb, Ray’s Barbershop, Manhattan Finds, 10,000 Villages, Twisted Roots and Pebbles & Twigs, along with other new store-front shops throughout downtown.

Our friends at The Gateway have also been preparing for this week for some time. Since it opened, The Gateway has served as one of Utah’s most successful mixed-use developments and premiere shopping destinations. It is home of Urban Outfitters, the Apple Store, Anthropologie and Abercrombie. This will continue with store openings and future arrivals of Bettie Page, Epic Board Shop, Francesca’s Collection and G-Star Raw.

And more change is on the horizon. Momentum is building with a new performing arts center, convention center hotel, public market, film and media center, new residences and new office towers across downtown.

It may be tempting for some to look at the opening of City Creek Center as the final chapter of the Downtown Rising story originally envisioned by community leaders in 2007. But it’s really just a very exciting chapter in the larger narrative of Utah’s capital city—an urban engine for economic growth and a downtown that is on the rise. It’s an amazing time to be associated with downtown Salt Lake City, and I thank my lucky stars every day to be living and working right here, right now.

The Larger Story of Downtown Rising

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Editor’s note: This op-ed originally ran in the The Salt Lake Tribute, Sunday, March 18, 2012. Lane Beattie is the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Jason Mathis is the Executive Director of the Downtown Alliance.

This week marks an important Downtown Rising milestone with the opening of City Creek Center. The Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance applaud the optimism that this project embodies and we are grateful for the investment it represents.

Much will be written about City Creek this week, and it is just one chapter of a much broader story about downtown. We are equally excited about the strength and momentum of other downtown retailer centers on Main Street, Broadway and The Gateway.  A rising downtown tide may create some waves, but it will also lift all ships.

As one of our community’s great treasures, The Gateway generates retail, office and residential momentum that continues to transform the western half of downtown. Since it opened, The Gateway has served as one of Utah’s most successful mixed-use developments and premiere shopping destinations. This will continue. The Gateway is critical to Salt Lake City’s continued success and a fundamental part of our past, present and future.

Amenities like the Olympic Legacy Plaza, Discovery Gateway, the Clark Planetarium and Megaplex 12 set The Gateway apart from other shopping destinations. Retailers like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Z Gallerie, the Apple Store, and Ambercrombie & Fitch create a distinct shopping experience. Underscoring The Gateway’s continued vitality, new stores including Bettie Page, Epic Board Shop, Francesca’s Collection and G-Star Raw have recently opened or been announced.

Our optimism about the future of The Gateway is also driven by the way it is integrated into the larger neighborhood. The Gateway has a symbiotic relationship with the Utah Jazz and EnergySolutions Arena. The LDS Business College and the BYU Extension at the Triad Center bring students and faculty to the neighborhood. The Hyatt Place Hotel opened at The Gateway a few years ago, and the next phase of office development, Gateway Six, is scheduled to open in June with 100 percent occupancy.

We are also confident about The Gateway’s long-term success because of leadership from property owners. Inland Western and The Boyer Company should be credited for their past investments and their commitment to our community. The have built a retail center that will stand the test of time. We stand with them.

We also stand with the independent merchants who are building local businesses throughout the rest of downtown. The urban renaissance inspired by Downtown Rising extends to the nearly 100 downtown store-front businesses that have opened their doors in the past three years. They are an essential part of downtown’s story. Linked by a free-fare TRAX zone, complemented by cultural amenities, supported by 30,000 parking spaces and 70,000 daily commuters, downtown truly is on the rise. With plans for a performing arts center, convention headquarters hotel, street car system, public market, film and media center, new office towers, and thousands of new residents, downtown’s future is bright.

The waves that may come from this rising tide are not unexpected. We have been preparing for the opening of City Creek Center for years, and the ribbon cutting on March 22 has been highly anticipated. It is part of the inevitable change that drives any dynamic community.

The goal for city officials and business leaders is to manage inevitable change in ways that ultimately strengthen the larger community. We will continue to adapt to changing economic dynamics and shifting demographics as we thoughtfully plan for the future. As we celebrate the opening of City Creek Center this week it is helpful to note that it is but one more chapter in the larger story of Utah’s capital city.

Drive On – Chamber honors LDS Church for dedication to downtown SLC

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Last Friday, the Salt Lake Chamber joined Gov. Gary Herbert to honor The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its historical and continuing contribution to downtown Salt Lake City. Chamber President Lane Beattie presented President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, with a statue of Brigham Young as a small token of appreciation. Bishop H. David Burton and Mark Gibbons were presented with framed photos of the workers who built the City Creek Center.

Below are the prepared remarks delivered by Beattie. Videos of the other speakers, United Way of Salt Lake President and CEO Deborah Bayle and Utah Symphony – Utah Opera Chair Pat Richards, are posted below.


In 1847, when Mormon pioneers set out across the vast American wilderness, few knew the final destination. Some of those pioneers thought Oregon or California or even Texas might be the ultimate home of the Saints.

But Brigham Young knew. He knew that this high desert valley, secured by the granite walls of the Rocky Mountains, watered by winter snow pack, desolate, barren and uncontested, next to a dead salty sea would be a place – would be the Right Place – for his people to build their city, unmolested by the persecutions of the east.

The pioneers didn’t know exactly how they would get here. Brigham Young probably didn’t know exactly how they would get here – what roads they would take, what hills they would have to climb, what dangers they would face and who would ultimately survive.

But as a people, they pushed forward in faith and determination. The Church leaders had a long-term vision for the future, even if they did not know every detail about how that vision would be realized.  And so it goes today, as we prepare to open City Creek Center in the heart of Salt Lake City – a remade and re-envisioned downtown core for this great American city

We come here today to thank the leaders of this Church, who have followed in Brigham Young’s footsteps.  As President Young’s wagon crested over the final hill, emerging from Emigration Canyon, he looked down on this valley and uttered the now famous words: “This is the right place. Drive on.”  And they did.  And they still are!

From this site, in Abravanel Hall, we see the spires of the Temple that took 40 years to build from hand cut granite blocks quarried out of Little Cottonwood Canyon. We see the Tabernacle dome, built like a bridge without internal support – an engineering marvel of its day. We see the work of the church in religious buildings throughout our community and state.

But in addition to these ecclesiastical investments, down the street we see the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, built as the Hotel Utah 100 years ago because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognized the need for civic engagement and wanted to create a welcoming place for presidents, ambassadors and captains of industry who might come to this valley.

The Church continues this role today, helping to create a welcoming and hospitable community for all visitors through outreach and activities at Temple Square, free concerts and performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and through support of the convention industry. Many people may not know that much of the land under the Salt Palace Convention Center is owned by the LDS Church.

Early in the history of this community, the Church recognized the need for banking institutions and helped to organize the Deseret National Bank that consolidated with the Security National Bank in 1932, later to become First Security Bank and now part of Wells Fargo – one of the sponsors of our event this morning. Another offshoot of the Deseret National Bank was Zions Savings Bank and Trust Company that evolved to become Zions Bancorporation. The two largest banking organizations in our community have roots in the community stewardship of the LDS Church many years ago.

The LDS Church has also played an important role in providing medical services for this community. LDS Hospital was established in 1905.  Primary Children’s Hospital was founded as a pediatric ward of LDS Hospital in 1911 and became a stand-alone facility in 1922. In 1975, the LDS Church donated the 15 hospitals in its system back to the community, and created a nonprofit, non-denominational organization called Intermountain Healthcare. Today, Intermountain is lauded as one of the nation’s greatest healthcare organizations by authors, political leaders and medical experts. Intermountain has become a model healthcare organization through the hard work of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, but also as a lasting legacy of its founding organizers.

The Church has always supported education. In 1850, Brigham Young created a board of regents to establish the University of Deseret, which later became the University of Utah. Twenty-five years later in 1875, the LDS Church sponsored the Brigham Young Academy, which became a full-fledged university in 1903. Today, BYU is one of the largest private universities in America. And the LDS Church provides education in Salt Lake City through the BYU extension and LDS Business College both located at Triad Center, near The Gateway.

Through Deseret Management Corporation, the Church plays a benevolent and supportive role in the printing industry, in newspapers and broadcast media, hospitality and even in retail.  Many people may not know that the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution – or ZCMI – was among the world’s first department stores.  Developed because Church leaders saw a need for the people of Utah, and they committed to meeting that need through organization, structure and when the times called for it, through capital investments.

In a few short weeks City Creek Center will open as the largest private mixed-use development in Utah’s history, ensuring the continued vitality and strength of our urban center. The construction of this center occurred during a challenging time in the world’s economy.  But because of the Church’s commitment to driving on, the pain of the global recession was felt less severely here than in other communities.  Because of the Church’s commitment, others were willing to invest.

Hamilton Partners, OC Tanner, Wasatch Commercial, the Boyer Company have all made commitments to the future of this community, helping to create a downtown that can truly be embraced by people across the region.  Downtown is truly rising – but it hasn’t happened by accident or happenstance. It has happened because of the faith and determination of the people of Utah. That faith and determination can be traced to the roots of those early pioneers

Much has already been written about City Creek, and you will hear much more about it over the next few weeks.  But as we prepare for the opening of this stunning example of new urbanism in downtown Salt Lake City, it is appropriate for us to pause, look back on the history of this community, and the history of the LDS Church as a community steward, to say thank you. Thank you so much.

The pioneers who helped to settle this valley did not know how their journey might end – but they knew where they wanted to be. They moved forward steadily, in the direction set by their leaders, to build a new community.  And those leaders have been building up this same community ever since.

When City Creek Center was first announced in 2006, no one knew the twists and turns the design process would take exactly how the buildings would be constructed, or what challenges the project would face. But the leaders knew they wanted to create a new core for Salt Lake City’s downtown, and they worked through every decision, building challenge and the ultimate construction with dedication and commitment.  Today we honor them, and the many hundreds of workers from Big D Construction, Jacobsen Construction and Okland Construction who have made the promise of City Creek Center a reality.

We also note that City Creek Center is not the end of Downtown Rising.  It is an important milestone. But the evolution of downtown and the work of this great community steward will go on forever.

The business and political leaders who are gathered here this morning recognize the unique and central role The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has played in the development of Salt Lake City, and of the State of Utah. We recognize the unique role the Church plays today.

The Church often acts quietly, and without great fan fare to improve the lives of people across the Intermountain West.  Although it has global reach, there is a unique and eternal bond that the Church has with Salt Lake City.  Indeed, Bishop Burton has called the Church the birth parents of this community – and as a community we are thriving, in part, because of the long-history of community stewardship from this organization.  From the moment Brigham Young laid eyes on this valley, and said those famous words: “This is the Right Place, Drive On!” that is what the Church has done.  And it is our great honor to be able to thank them today.

At this time I would like to invite Mark Gibbons, President of the Church’s new Investment Properties Management Department and Bishop H. David Burton, presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the stage.

Through remarkable dedication and leadership, these men have labored to build this new center in the heart of our community. We have printed photos of the workers who have also helped to create this great new center and would like to offer them to you as a token of our deep and abiding gratitude for your work, your vision and your dedication in constructing City Creek Center.

Thank you so much for your efforts to bring this wonderful new part of our community to life.

Now I would like to invite President Dieter F. Uchtdorf to the stage.  President Uchtdorf, we have commissioned this statue of a young Brigham Young, striding purposefully forward, symbolizing the commitment of the Church to “Drive On”. As political and business leaders, we thank The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for your spirit, your determination and your commitment to our community over so many years. Thank you so much.