The DowntownRising.com website provides complete information on the project.
On March 22nd, the LDS Church and mall owner Taubman Centers Inc will throw the wraps off of what has increasingly become an anomaly; a megamall with eye-popping extras such as a man-made creek, retractable roofs and a fountain that erupts in choreographed jets of water and fire. The City Creek Center stands out simply because malls this size aren't often built in the U.S. anymore. New projects have been choked off by retail overbuilding, the rise of online shopping, curtailed expansion by department stores and store closures by mall stalwarts. The financial backing of the LDS Church has enabled the mall to include the high-price extras which will lure high-profile retailers.
So far, the gamble has paid off on the business side. The mall is already 92 percent leased, including anchor tenants like Nordstrom, Macy's, and Tiffany & Co. Thirty percent of the mall's retailers will be helped by the fact that they will have no other outlets in Utah. On the residential side, results are mixed so far. While City Creek also includes 111 apartments, which are nearly leased out at monthly rates of $800 to $1,800, only 30 percent of the project's 450 condos have been sold or are under contract at prices ranging from $250 to $1,000 a square foot, despite the additional lure of impressive views of either the Wasatch Mountains or Temple Square.
Taubman and Church officials decline to divulge the cost of the development, which also includes offices, condominiums and apartments. But other developers estimate that such a mall, especially one with 5,000 parking spaces below ground, could cost about $600 to $800 a square foot to build. That would put the total price tag for the mall at $420 million to $560 million, although JustLuxe.com put the price tag closer to $2 billion. The Church financed the development without taking a mortgage or construction loan; no tithing funds were used.
International Business Times adds that there will be rules of conduct at the mall. They include a moratorium on snarky T-shirts, photography and pamphleteering. It will also be a no-smoking zone, and the businesses will be closed on Sundays. The Salt Lake Tribune has published a complete list of the rules.
Skeptics and anti-Mormons have complained that the LDS Church should have spent the money on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, yada yada yada. They've even falsely claimed that tithing funds were used to finance the construction. But during the April 2003 General Conference, in his address entitled "The Condition of the Church", then-President Gordon B. Hinckley discussed the project and assured Church members that tithing funds would not be used:
"We feel we have a compelling responsibility to protect the environment of the Salt Lake Temple. The Church owns most of the ground on which this mall stands. The owners of the buildings have expressed a desire to sell. The property needs very extensive and expensive renovation. We have felt it imperative to do something to revitalize this area. But I wish to give the entire Church the assurance that tithing funds have not and will not be used to acquire this property. Nor will they be used in developing it for commercial purposes.
"Funds for this have come and will come from those commercial entities owned by the Church. These resources, together with the earnings of invested reserve funds, will accommodate this program."
During the October 2004 General Conference, President Hinckley once again reiterated that tithing funds would not be used.
No, the LDS Church didn't "feed the hungry" or "heal the sick" or do any of those other hip charity projects with the money, but here are the results so far:
(1). Provided hundreds of good construction jobs during the building phase.
(2). Attracted quality retailers who will provide hundreds of additional good jobs after opening.
(3). Launched a major investment effort to improve the downtown community. Instead of investing in welfare, the LDS Church invested in growth.
And all this was done without using a single penny in Federal stimulus funds. This means Federal funds can be reserved for those needs beyond the ability of the private sector to resolve them.