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Smith's Food & Drug coming to Cottonwood Mall site

Published July 8, 2014 1:10 pm

Development • Grocer signs a letter to construct a 78,000-square-foot store.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The long-awaited redevelopment of the Cottonwood Mall came closer to realization with Tuesday's announcement that an all-important grocery store has been secured for the proposed mixed-use project.

Smith's Food & Drug will build a 78,000 square-foot store at the mall's former site on the southeast corner of 4800 South and Highland Drive, according to Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the 57-acre parcel.

"This is a pivotal first step in delivering a vibrant, open-air setting where people will enjoy the opportunity to live, work, shop, dine and play," said Howard Hughes President Grant Herlitz, pleased to be partnering with "the most respected and well established grocer in the state."

Just as pleased about the partnership are Holladay City officials, who have waited for years to see any revenue from what was supposed to be their economic breadbasket.

"That's very good news for us," said City Councilman Jim Palmer, understanding from years of conferring with developers that landing a grocery store was critical to the project moving forward because it is designed to include more than 600 multi-family dwelling units.

"We've been helping introduce them to everyone we could find. I'm pleased they could come to a deal with Kroger and Smith's," he added, referring to Smith's Ohio-based parent company.

This is a good location for Smith's, said Steve Sorensen, Smith's vice president of corporate development.

"We are looking forward to building a store in Holladay City within the dynamic Cottonwood development," he said, "and offering the Smith's shopping experience to both Cottonwood residents and the surrounding communities."

Smith's spokeswoman Marsha Gilford said the store would be similar in size and contents to another store at 4500 South just west of 900 East. A store like that usually employs about 125 people, she added.

"We've have a multi-level parking structure which will be good for bad weather issues and easy access," Gilford noted.

She said the store will be located northeast of a resilient Macy's store, which remained open after the aged Cottonwood Mall was torn down.

Macy's was supposed to be one anchor of then-owner General Growth Properties' plan for an open-air "town square" style mall with upscale shopping, dining, entertainment centers, commercial offices and residences. But then the Great Recession put General Growth's plans on hold and drove the company into bankruptcy.

Howard Hughes Corp. emerged in 2010 from that Chapter 11 reorganization to run General Growth's master-planned communities and mixed-use projects, including the Cottonwood Mall.

"It's going to be a superb project," said Holladay's Palmer, recalling that it is projected to be worth $550 million when completed, providing 3,000 construction jobs alone. "It will have an immediate effect on our local economy.

"And in the long term," the councilman added, "with its combination of retail and residential, the mall won't have the ebbs and flows you have with straight retail. We're very keen on seeing them proceed."

Carlton Christensen, Salt Lake County's director of regional development, said securing a grocery store "is often the hardest part of doing a multi-use scenario," citing his previous work for Salt Lake City in attracting Harmon's to Brickyard Mall.

"This is definitely a start and, hopefully, a sign of the strengthening of that particular market," he said. "That's a key retail and commercial sector in our county, with a long heritage of being so. Communities developer around it, to be honest."

A division of Ohio-based Kroger, Smith's has 130 stores and 82 fuel centers in Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp. owns, manages and develops commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate in 16 states.

It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange as HHC.

mikeg@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribmikeg —

Period of expansion

These are busy times at Smith's Food & Drug, which is opening three new stores. Next Wednesday, a Smith's Marketplace store will make its debut in Los Alamos, N.M. Two Marketplace stores are scheduled to open later this year in Utah — one in North Ogden in November, the other at 7800 S. 5600 West in West Jordan in December.