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City Creek Center Compared to MGM CityCenter
May 18th, 2009

Amid most all other massive construction projects being put on hold around the country these two will finish

by Rebecca Edwards

Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are in the midst of building the largest privately financed construction projects in their respective cities: The City Creek Center in Salt Lake City (Financed by Zion Securities--the for-profit arm of the LDS church) and the CityCenter in Las Vegas (financed jointly between MGM/Mirage and Dubai World).

Although the Salt Lake's City Creek Center is dwarfed in size and budget to the CityCenter, it's an interesting examination comparing the two projects where both investors are putting all their chips on the table as the odds against short-term profitability sink with the deflating real estate markets.

city creek center Salt Lake City and Las Vegas CityCenter

the $1.2 billion City Creek Center (right) Along side of the $8.5 billion MGM CityCenter


Demographic Comparison Between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas
Demographics Salt Lake City Las Vegas
Population 1.2 million 1.9 million
Median Household Income 36,944/year $44,069/year
Average Retail Sales Per Capita $17,040 $12,739
Unemployment Rate 5.2% statewide 10.4% statewide

Amid rumors of financial trouble,the owners and lenders of the City Center in Las Vegas struck a deal in April that guarantees the project will finish--even in the event of MGM Mirage, the largest backer, filing for bankruptcy. The involvement of the LDS church seems to be what has kept our own City Creek Center on track to complete on time. Both projects are large, privately funded operations and both strive to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) approved. In fact, the City Center in Vegas is the largest privately funded construction project in US history, and the City Creek Center is one of only 60 LEED pilot projects.

City Creek Center and MGM CityCenter Project Details
Project Details City Creek Center -- SLC City Center -- Las Vegas
Acreage 20 acres 67 acres
Retail Square Footage 500,000 500,000
Estimated Project Cost $1.5 billion $8.5 billion
Residential Units 750 335
Projected Completion 2012 2010
Alcohol Restrictions Restaurants on church-owned property will not serve alcohol Come on, it's Vegas--DRINK UP!
Days of Operation Monday--Saturday for retailers on church-owned property Many will be 24/7


Vegas seems to have welcomed MGM's City Center with open arms in anticipation of the 8,000 construction jobs created by the project and the eventual permanent 12,000 new jobs estimated once business commences. Salt Lake awaits the completion of City Creek Center with mixed feelings--some confident that the development will revitalize a previously struggling downtown district and others wary of all history, character, and even individual freedoms being lost.



Pros and Cons of City Creek Center and CityCenter
Cheers & Jeers City Creek Center -- SLC City Center -- Las Vegas
From "Critics fear it will turn downtown into a small Vatican City"  
"The new plans will short-change Salt Lake City residents so Taubman Partners shareholders can maximize profits."
From "This project sets the course for Salt Lake's downtown for generations to come."  
From "It's already creating quite the ripple effect in development, even though it will be 3-4 years before it's completion. This and the huge amount of mass- transit construction going on, will be the ushering in of a whole new era for Downtown Salt Lake. "  
From   "Many investors and other MGM Mirage stakeholders, including local residents whose livelihoods are tied to the company, feel betrayed by its sorry fortunes."
From   "Casino stocks rallied Thursday on the news that MGM Mirage will proceed with its ambitious yet troubled CityCenter project, which had been rumored headed toward bankruptcy."

From MGM President

Jim Murren

  "The 18 million-square-foot urban metropolis at the center of the Las Vegas Strip will raise the bar for Las Vegas development and will forever change the resort experience as we know it today,"
From   "What is incredible about City Center is that it is virtually a city within a city. Whatever it you are looking for that you can do within the city whether it is shopping, dining, golf, sports or gambling you will find that you could do it all at City Center."
From   "The developers, MGM Mirage and Dubai World, are expected to miss a $220 million debt payment due Friday and the project could file for bankruptcy within days unless an agreement is made. Dubai World has already filed suit against MGM Mirage" Later the two parties came to an agreement and the project continued
From Casino Gaming   MGM stock is up over 11% today (May 18th, 2009) other casino stocks are up as well as investors like the odds of completion for CityCenter

Las Vegas and Salt Lake City Early Ties

Few know that Las Vegas was originally settled as a Mormon Pioneer colony. The hope was that Vegas would one day "blossom as the rose" in a similar manner as Brigham Young described Salt Lake City. Las Vegas didn't quite blossom as Young imagined and if it were to be compared to a flower it probably wouldn't be a rose--maybe a Venus fly-trap.

The original 1855 Mormon settlement in in Las Vegas only lasted three years because the Pioneers numbers were too small to hold out against raiding Indian parties. In addition Las Vegas' top soil proved difficult to grow substantial crops to sustain the Pioneers. So Vegas was left mostly a small outpost until Bugsy Siegel had an new vision for Vegas--a gambling mecca.

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