Downtown Alliance Pleased with Retail, Residential Growth

Jul 10, 2014

  Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance released its annual report on economic benchmarks today.  It shows retail sales, commercial office space and residential construction are all growing – and people seem to like it.

A statewide survey included in the report shows 70 percent of residents statewide have a positive perception of downtown Salt Lake, and 50 percent say the parking situation has improved.

Scott Wilmarth with the commercial real estate firm CBRE says vacancy rates for downtown office buildings have dropped to about 17-percent, in part because firms from other parts of Salt Lake County are moving there.

Wilmarth told reporters at a news conference, “We’re seeing some of the suburban tenants who are now looking to downtown as a possible alternative, primarily driven by the kinds of people that they’re trying to hire.”

Wilmarth says technology firms are looking for highly-skilled young workers who like an urban lifestyle, with access to public transit and entertainment options.

City Creek Center General Manager Linda Wardell says concern about lower-income workers being priced out of downtown residential and retail options isn’t really justified.

Wardell says, “While a lot of people like to talk about the few luxury tenants that we have in our center, we have a little something for everyone at City Creek, so we count on that too.”

Downtown Alliance Director Jason Mathis says they’d like to see Salt Lake City lower its impact fees to make apartments more affordable.  And he wants to see changes in Utah’s liquor laws to allow the creation of an entertainment district.