Gallivan Avenue: Salt Lake’s (Recently Remodeled) Living Room

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The Gallivan Center’s website proclaims the area as “Salt Lake’s living room.” It’s an interesting connection to make between the ever-growing metropolis of Salt Lake City and the domestic environs of our own homes. In a home, living rooms are typically comfortable places that are reserved for entertaining guests or spending time with family, which is precisely the purpose of Gallivan Avenue. The Main Street plaza has always been a focal point for Downtown visitors, and, with the help of a few local businesses and organizations, it’s about to get much more exciting.

The RDA and CBRE

The Gallivan Center is owned by the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) of Salt Lake City, which has spent the last few years courting new and innovative local businesses to enhance the area’s social and commercial appeal. “With City Creek Center booming two blocks north and adjacent Eccles Theater and Regent Street construction in progress, the area surrounding Gallivan is poised to become a new hub of public activity,” says Justin Belliveau, Interim Executive Director of the RDA.

Gallivan Avenue
Gallivan Avenue hosts local food-and-drink businesses for all walks of life; Photo Credit: LmSorenson.net

Taking advantage of Gallivan Avenue’s location within Salt Lake’s Central Business District, the RDA has been invested in the area since 1993. “We want the Gallivan Center and Gallivan Avenue to be a lively center of activity that Salt Lake City residents can connect with,” Belliveau says. In order to do that, the RDA has partnered with CBRE, an international real estate services company, to seek out new and innovative entrepreneurs to bring their businesses to the property. “The most rewarding part of my job is connecting a tenant with a space that really fits their concept,” says Stephanie Buranek, a retail specialist with CBRE.

Both CBRE and the RDA of Salt Lake are looking to take advantage of Gallivan Avenue’s location to create a communal hub that will bring people from all walks of life together. “The partnership between the RDA and CBRE was formed because we shared a similar vision,” Buranek says. “We both wanted to create a district with an eclectic mix of local restaurants and bars with an opportunity to include indoor and outdoor space.”

Thus far, the efforts of these two organizations have created an environment that will give the everyday foot traffic in the Main Street area some fantastic new places to eat and socialize. Their emphasis on local entrepreneurs has also provided some great opportunities for Utah-based businesses—purveyors of everything from Thai food to high-end coffee—to get their brands out there. “Higher rental rates on Gallivan Avenue aren’t an issue,” Belliveau says. “We have made sure to make them affordable and reasonable enough for small, local businesses to afford.”

While it’s exciting to see the RDA’s big-picture view of Gallivan Avenue, the payoff is having the ability to take a stroll through the small restaurants, coffee shops and speakeasies that are popping up throughout the Gallivan area. There are some great things happening within this small but crucial area—here are some places to look out for.