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The City Journals

Town Center at Valley Fair hopes to be a public gathering hotspot

Jul 06, 2021 04:05PM ● By Darrell Kirby

It’s hoped that the new Town Center will be a gathering place for live performances and other public and social events at Valley Fair Mall. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

The latest addition to the decade-long renovation and reimaging of Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City is now open. 

Town Center debuted in June between the westside of the enclosed mall and the open-air stores that were added as part of the remake of the shopping complex that was largely completed around 2011.

City and mall officials hope Town Center will be a gathering spot for events and live entertainment for adults and kids to attract them to Valley Fair not only as a shopping destination but as a place with a vibe, especially during warm summer evenings. It is a plaza-like space covered by artificial turf surrounded by tables, benches, string lights, a stage, and an improved sound system for concerts. It replaces a smaller open area of planter boxes, concrete and brick. 

“It was time to make it a bit more welcoming and turn it into a gathering place for unity and better programming and events,” said Casey Bulkley, general manager of Valley Fair for retail property management company Vestar. “We wanted to create an environment where there could be some fun events.” He said that’s especially important at a time when people want to get out and socialize again after a year of COVID-19-related restrictions on crowds. 

The idea of Town Square came together not as part of some long-range plan, but the result of brainstorming last fall on how to draw people back to Valley Fair when the pandemic subsided. “Ownership said let’s see if we can figure out a way to be ready for when people come back, but be ready in a new way. They felt it was time to put some investment in that property that is for the community,” Bulkley said. 

Surrounding food establishments are enjoying the early results of Town Square after months of slow traffic. “We definitely are a little bit busier,” said Sarah Lewis, ownership partner of Cafe Zupas two days after the opening of the public square. “I’m optimistic that it will get better and better and bring more people to try us out.”

Across the way at Cupbop Korean barbecue, shift leader Sebastian Kirchner-Jiron also noticed an early uptick in business. “I’m positive that even though they have food trucks out, we’re still going to have a lot more business” as more events are held at Town Center over the summer.

Town Square today is by no means a finished product. The acceptance and use of the space could lead to expansion and more amenities in the future. “It’s a work in progress,” Bulkley said. 

Valley Fair has unveiled a new logo. The colorful symbol adorning entrances and signs around the property is another step to refresh the look and feel of the 50-year-old mall. “The (previous) logo had been around a long time,” Bulkley said. 

Customers are returning to Valley Fair and vacant stores are being filled as the economy rebounds. The most noticeable empty space—formerly occupied by Bed Bath & Beyond—has attracted a number of interested businesses, according to Bulkley. And at the south end of Valley Fair, the under-construction Panda Express could be serving up its Chinese cuisine by late summer. Before that, Waffle Love, perhaps best known for its food trucks at various public events, is expected to open in the spot formerly occupied by Rumbi Island Grill. 

“It’s like the faucet has been turned back on,” Bulkley said.