Monday, July 09, 2018

A Slow, Lingering, Painful Death

I remember the hoopla surrounding the opening of Sunrise Mall back in the early 70s.  Despite being a single story it was a large mall, and it was built out in the middle of fields in unincorporated Sacramento County.  People flocked to it, the area prospered, and today that mall anchors Sunrise Marketplace, a retail district in what is now the 21-year-old City of Citrus Heights.  No more fields are to be had!

About 15 years ago or so, a newer mall was built in the nearby city of Roseville, perhaps 20 minutes away.  At around the same time, the owners of Sunrise performed a $10 million upgrade and modernization.  Sunrise had seen better days, and the upgrade was seen as a way to keep shoppers there instead of at the new mall.  And little Citrus Heights had plans for a Walmart, Costco, and Sam's Club, all of which would compete with Sunrise.

But if that new mall wasn't the death knell for Sunrise, it certainly constituted a few of the early chimes.

When I was in high school, Sunrise was where you went.  It was a hangout, it was air conditioned (no small thing in the Sacramento Valley in the summer), it had Farrell's for ice cream, it had a movie theater.  It was a major transfer point for Regional Transit buses.

Today, not so much.  It still has air conditioning, and the theater is still there--I think the seats are the same ones I sat in over 35 years ago.  Of the 4 large department stores in the mall, two are Macy's, one is JC Penney, and one is a soon-to-be-closed 3-level Sears:

click to enlarge so you can get a better view of the situation
There are a few rows of clothing in there, and the rest is fixtures for sale (up to 80% off!).

Yes, I went on a Monday afternoon, but this is just sad:

There's no one in there.  And it's got to have a 25% vacancy rate; so many of the storefronts are closed up, serving as display windows for the few stores remaining.  Mrs. Field's cookies is closed down.  So is the children's portrait studio.  That's got to be a sign.

You know what else is a sign?  This:
This is what's left of the children's play area, and it's empty.  19 years ago I'd bring my son here to climb on and through the "toys", today there's not a single parent or child here.  There's not even a sleeping senior citizen on any of the couches.

I've got to believe Sunrise's days are numbered.  But what can you do with an empty mall?

There's always talk of building a university of some open land not too far from that new mall.  Could a shopping mall not be repurposed into an indoor university?  At least it's a thought.  I'm just trying to think outside of the box, because it seems to me that Sunrise Mall will soon be a new addition to this web site.


Auntie Ann said...

I was on the north side of LA and went into a mall in Northridge. I was shocked to find it completely packed! Families were obviously there together, there was a train for kids to ride and these odd rideable moving stuffed animals. I don't think I've ever been in a mall that crowded. Some of them are surviving and thriving.

Ellen K said...

I think this is the destiny of most malls. Even the large fancy Gallerias of the world have to see the writing on the wall. They are expensive to maintain and as Amazon and other online retailers squeeze out brick and mortar stores, there's simply fewer people shopping in person. As for the playground, we can lay that at a generation of twenty and thirty somethings who are continuing to delay having children until the entirety of their lives is in order. As a result, we will see some stores simply fade away. The smart malls will start marketing space for public use. I heard of one mall in NJ where they rented space to a private school on the second floor and rented our ground floor space to community theaters, orchestras, artists and small businesses. The food courts stayed open and the mall was still viable. I'm just not sure other mall owners are willing to go that route. I remember when I was 9 and the Sears in north Dallas opened. Soon after Valley View Mall followed-a place where I shopped, hung out and held three different jobs in high school and college. It's gone now with the promise of building a new mixed use complex. Unfortunately work has stalled, which means next to high end north Dallas homes, you see a big ugly incomplete scar in the earth. Dallas has gone the route of never keeping anything old and leveling many beautiful places to make room for new. As a result, we have no visual history. And since the bubble is heading toward bursting, this big development along with another in Frisco TX are simply left behind as bad investments.

Kevin said...

Being you are in the heart of liberal land, I'm surprised the government hasn't just taken it over and turned it into a homeless shelter.

Sadly, I am only half joking...

Peggy U said...

I thought maybe you would link to this site.

Darren said...

Not dissimilar.