A couple of months ago I was stopped on Main Street by a Japanese tourist who didn’t speak English very well. “Where’s shopping?” she asked, gesturing to the beautiful new buildings on Main Street. “Why all stores closed?” I explained the stores had just been built, were not yet open, and she would need to go down to the Gateway mall to find good shopping.
It has been a very long time since downtown has had shopping. It has been a really long haul coping with the complete reconstruction of the two major downtown blocks.
But living and working downtown is going to get a lot more fun and interesting in the next few weeks. Along with my neighbors, I’m excited to watch downtown come back to life. It’s going to be a big celebration!
The heart of downtown was demolished a number of years ago. It took many months just to knock down the buildings and haul away the debris. Our building on 100 South often shook as gigantic machinery whacked away at the old concrete and brick.
We were left with immense holes in the ground on both sides of Main Street. We watched as thousands of tons of concrete became parking terraces that finally reached ground level – a big milestone. The space in front of our office was a staging area for concrete delivery. We dodged concrete trucks and pumping machinery for years. We lived with closed roads and closed sidewalks.
Then came the gigantic cranes that sprouted all over the two blocks as the steel framework for the City Creek development took shape. The building facades came next, and it finally started to look like downtown again.
Christmas seasons downtown have been pretty dreary. The city put up lights along the wooden walkways protecting officer workers from the construction activities. Not quite comparable to the old ZCMI Christmas window displays.
But now the construction crews are being replaced by retail store and restaurant workers. The shelves in Maceys are already being stocked. People are moving into new condominium and apartment units. I can now walk underground from the west side of Main Street to the east side of State Street, stopping at the Food Court on the way.
This week, the new Harmon’s grocery store opens on 100 South. It will be nice to walk a couple of blocks to buy groceries. In another few weeks the rest of City Creek will open, and the build-up between now and then will be enormous.
Salt Lake City will have the newest big downtown development in the country, and it will be one of the best. Come on down for a visit!