Yawn! Another Anniversary - the 10th - for Elk Grove’s half-baked Howard Hughes’ 'Ghost Mall'

July 27, 2018 |

By our accounting of history, today marks the 10th anniversary that construction came to a halt on Elk Grove, California’s infamous unfinished shopping center, known affectionately in these parts as the Ghost Mall.

The unfinished shopping center is in its third incarnation and is now known as the Outlet Collection at Elk Grove. Before that is was called the Elk Grove Promenade by its then owners and original developers General Growth Company, and at its conception was called the Lent Ranch Mall named after the former landowners.

Our accounting is based on reports first published in the Elk Grove Citizen 10 years ago on or about July 28 as the day construction came to an inexplicable stop. In each of these last ten years, EGN has commemorated the event in a variety of ways, often with a video.

But this year, there is nothing to report that has not already been said by either Elk Grove city council members, city officials, or the Howard Hughes Co. We have all heard the promises that yes, construction is going to start once Howard Hughes meets a certain threshold of secured leases and they hope to have Elk Grove shopping Mecca open by Black Friday if they pursue an aggressive construction schedule.

That all sounds reasonable until you consider the footprint of the shopping center was decreased 18 months ago by about one third when Boyd Gaming bought a portion of the site for Wilton Rancheria’s proposed bingo, keno, and gambling hall that is currently being pursued. Furthermore, with a robust economic growth rate and full employment, one would think signing leases with these supposed high-end retail outlet stores would be like picking low hanging fruit.
Residents may recall when General Growth Property was pushing for
approval of the Elk Grove Promenade, these postcards were part
of their full-throated public relations orchestrated by Sacramento-based

Alas, the easy retail fruit has already been picked and what is left on the rest of that tree is being shaken loose by the mechanized orchard harvesting machine called Amazon. Unless Elk Grove economic development guru, cum business czar Darrel Doan’s consultants from Birmingham, Alabama, Retail Strategies – Where are you Bear? - pull a rabbit out of their hat, which they won’t; it is not likely to see anything meaningful happening there until all the litigation with the Wilton Rancheria’s is concluded.

Wilton Rancheria’s Chairman Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock acknowledged this two years ago this month at their community meeting announcing the gambling hall. Notwithstanding their recent bravado, at the time Hitchcock admitted construction was not likely to start anytime sooner than five to seven years from that point. 

It looks like Mayor Steve Ly is going to have a longer than expected wait before he can belly-up to the buffet line.

Of course, the 10th anniversary has not gone unnoticed by other media outlets. Sacramento’s Channel 10 reported and fell for time-tested malarkey about the lease thresholds, and they expect to be open in 2020. If the Wilton Rancheria gambling hall was open for business, having that shopping center open by 2020 is one bet that we would not wager.

A media colleague who was active in Elk Grove ten years ago now resides and works in the news business in The Woodlands, Texas, which is a well-regarded, master-planned community north of Houston operated by Howard Hughes. When our colleague told a Howard Hughes representative in The Woodlands that he worked in Elk Grove and was quite familiar with the ghost mall, the representative not surprisingly said they did not want to discuss the unfinished project. It seems Elk Grove is not the only party burdened by an albatross hanging from their neck.

If you are curious, we have posted some of our videos over the last ten years below. The one posted at the top might be of interest – it shows construction activity at the ghost mall – something that has not been seen for ten years and probably will not for years to come.   

Happy Anniversary Ghost Mall!

June 2008 construction still going.

Days after major construction stopped

February 2009

Second Anniversary

Eight Anniversary

Approaching Black Friday 2016

Love Lies Bleeding, April 2017

Ninth Anniversary

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm voting to re-elect Steve Ly for Mayor, because he told our local newspaper on Friday that “Honestly, I’ve had enough. Every time I talk to Howard Hughes, I tell them that: ‘I’ve had enough. You’ve got to build it."

So there. End of story EGN!

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