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Salt Lake's Next Entertainment District

Gateway's Remodel

Amelia Nielson-Stowell Nov 1, 2017

The Gateway Shopping Center in Salt Lake City is in the midst of a comeback. Formerly one of the most popular attractions downtown, the 16-year-old outdoor center has struggled as numerous stores abandoned Gateway for the new City Creek Center in the heart of the city.

But real estate company Vestar is breathing new life into The Gateway, investing $100 million and signing new tenants Dave and Busters and Medici Neapolitan Pizza Company. Over the next three years, The Gateway will transform into a hip, urban locale that city officials hope will once again rejuvenate the west side of downtown. 

Downtown’s Entertainment Center

The Gateway already has the bones to rekindle its former glory. The Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, Megaplex Theatres, Wise Guys Comedy Club and The Depot concert venue remain its current anchors. Now all it needs is to fill the interior spaces and spruce up the infrastructure.

“We are reinventing the previous mall concept into an entertainment destination,” says Edie Trott, The Gateway’s marketing director. “By utilizing art, design and imagination, we’re creating moments throughout the property.”

Already, Vestar has installed unique urban art pieces that are attracting visitors, like the new “Salt Lake is for lovers” neon sign, angel wing mural and rainbow street crosswalk. And it hosts public events almost daily, such as food truck gatherings, yoga classes, movie nights and sunset concerts.

Its new focus is in line with America’s changing shopping preferences. People are buying online, and traditional malls are failing in the new economy. The “State of Downtown” report released this year by various partners of the nonprofit Downtown Alliance business group shows restaurants and bars lead for retail spending in Salt Lake, and people want to come downtown for entertainment, dining, and arts and culture.

“Smart shopping destinations are trying to differentiate their product mix,” says Jason Mathis, executive director of the alliance. “People come downtown for an authentic experience that they can’t find as easily in a suburban location. Vestar has a clear vision for this. It will be the next exciting story for downtown Salt Lake City, the west side of our community.”

Revitalizing Downtown’s West Side

The neighboring Vivint Arena, where the Jazz NBA team plays, recently completed its own $125 million remodel.

“You’re seeing the west side of downtown in a way it’s never been before,” says Derek Kitchen, Salt Lake City councilman. New apartments are springing up in the area, adding thousands of residential units. “It’s teeing up Gateway for a tremendous rebound.”

The Gateway’s location is not without its challenges, however. The Road Home homeless shelter that sits south of The Gateway is the primary shelter in Salt Lake County, and absorbs the negative effects of the homeless population. The shelter is closing in 2019, and state lawmakers are paying for new shelters in three other areas of the county.

“Once we get our hands around the growing issue of safety and crime, The Gateway will be a premiere destination,” Kitchen says.

Holiday events will kick off the Christmas season at The Gateway, and modern holiday scenes will adorn the windows. Over the next few years, The Gateway’s clock tower will be surrounded with LED screens, art murals will adorn large building facades, and a boutique hotel will be built. 

Photos courtesy of The Gateway

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