Arden and Ethan Ways
Sacramento County (Sacramento), California

In December 1954, details about a suburban Sacramento shopping hub, to be known as SWANSTON ESTATES CENTER, were announced. The complex was to be built on a 73.6 acre plot, situated 4.5 miles northeast of Sacramento's center city, and be developed by Philip F. Heraty and William Gannon.

The first operational store, a 1-level (156,700 square foot) Sears, was completed in 1957. By this time, the prospective retail complex had been renamed ARDEN FAIR CENTER. Access was provided by the Elvas Freeway / US 40 & 99E, which had opened to traffic in May 1955. The highway was designated as Interstate 80 in 1964 and redesignated as Business Route Interstate 80 in 1981.

In 1960-1961, an open-air mall was added to the east side of Sears. This addition included a 3-level (205,000 square foot), Sacramento-based Hale Brothers, which came inline August 10, 1961. Inline stores in the single-level, ARDEN FAIR CENTER included S.H. Kress, F.W. Woolworth, Thom McAn Shoes, Carousel Snack Bar, Leed's Qualicraft Shoes, Rogers Jewelers, Lane Bryant, Roberta Schneider Stationary and the Gourmet Nut Center.

To the east of Hale's was a 120,000 square foot outparcel structure that contained a Stop 'n Shop supermarket, Thrifty Drug, Cork 'n Bottle Liquors, S & H Green Stamps Redemption Center and the 27,000 square foot Food Circus.

This was a 16-bay, cafeteria-style collection of restaurants, something akin to today's shopping mall food court. Businesses operating in the Food Circus included Die Rheinlander, Carnation Ice Cream, La Plaza and See's Candies.

The mall site, originally within unincorporated Sacramento County, was annexed into the capital city in July 1962. Commercial competitors in the vicinity of ARDEN FAIR included COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE (1952) {2 miles northeast, in Sacramento County}, COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA (1961) {2.3 miles northeast, in Sacramento County}, DOWNTOWN PLAZA -a partially-enclosed, center city mall complex dedicated in 1971- and SUNRISE MALL (1972) {9.7 miles northeast, in Citrus Heights}.

Hale's is the only anchor at ARDEN FAIR to have been rebranded. The store, a division of Los Angeles-based Broadway-Hale Stores (later Carter-Hawley-Hale Stores), had been merged with another Sacramento-based chain, Weinstock's, in 1949. In 1965, both department store chains began operating as Weinstock-Hale, with the latter being dropped from the official moniker in 1967.

The mall was given an enclosing renovation in 1970-'71, known henceforth as ARDEN FAIR CENTER MALL. The interior corridor became known for its aviaries filled with parrots. In the 1960s, the mall had a single-screen cinema in one of the south-facing store blocks. A new multiplex theater, the UA Arden Fair 4, was added to the northeast corner of the shopping venue during the enclosing renovation, replacing the earlier cinematic venue.

Around this time, the Stop 'n Shop in the Food Circus outparcel was shuttered. It re-opened as a Corti Brother Gourmet Grocery.

The shopping center was acquired by Sacramento-based Fulcrum Property in 1973. 10 years later, they performed a facelift renovation and expansion, adding 75,000 square feet of retail area. The project was completed in June 1984, with the mall encompassing 589,700 leasable square feet.

Chicago-based Homart Development bought a fifty percent share in the retail hub in May 1987. In mid-1988, a massive renovation got underway. The 30-year-old Sears was demolished and replaced with a 2-level (156,900 square foot) store. It opened, as a first phase of the mall's reconstruction, on March 29, 1989.

A 3-level (185,000 square foot) Nordstrom, the chain's twenty-third store in California, was dedicated October 20, 1989, along with a new parking garage. On November 1, a renovated Weinstock's was dedicated. This was followed by the first stage of openings in the new Second Level of the mall, which took place May 5, 1990.

By June of the year, the 2-year, sixty million dollar remodeling was complete, with a 12-bay Food Court dedicated on the shopping center's Second Level. The center, now known as simply ARDEN FAIR, was officially dedicated with Circus Gala Fantastique, a one hundred dollar-per-person charity party.

J.C. Penney, who had been trying to begin construction on at store at the new ARDEN FAIR for over a year, had been delayed by the City of Sacramento. The powers that be were concerned over the increase of vehicular traffic, in and out of the mall, that might result from the addition of a fourth anchor store.

Approval was finally granted. The 3-level (154,000 square foot) store, a relocation of the circa-1971 Penney's at COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA, opened for business July 27, 1994. A second parking garage had also been built.

ARDEN FAIR now spanned 1,108,800 leasable square feet and one hundred and sixty-five stores and services. Following the aforementioned SUNRISE MALL, it was the region's second-largest shopping venue.

Over at the old Food Circus outparcel, things were changing rapidly. The food court forerunner had closed in 1988. Corti Brothers called it quits in 1990. The structure, renamed MARKET SQUARE AT ARDEN FAIR, was retenanted by the UA Arden Fair 6, a relocation of the 4-screen movie house that was giving way to J.C. Penney. The new cinema was dedicated in November 1992.

This was followed by California Pizza Kitchen in April 1993, Barnes & Noble in August 1993 and a Virgin Megastore in November 1994. In 1995, the "convenience center" was totally renovated inside and out. In the mall proper, Weinstock's was rebranded by that well-known Manhattan merchandiser in early 1996.

By the dawn of the 21st century, Homart Development had sold its half share in ARDEN FAIR to Boston-based AEW Capital Management. Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle had been recruited to manage the property in June 1999.

The mega mall faced a new retail rival in the new GALLERIA AT ROSEVILLE {14.5 miles northeast, in Roseville}, which was dedicated in August 2000. A remarketing effort was undertaken, with the two centers peacably coexisting.

Presently, ARDEN FAIR features one hundred and sixty-nine retailers, including Champs Sports, Ann Taylor, New York & Company, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Fredericks of Hollywood and Abercrombie & Fitch. The complex is managed by the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company.


"Arden Fair Mall" article on Wikipedia
"Carter Hawley Hale Stores" article on Wikipedia
Comment post by Randy / Lance Armstrong


The newspaper advertisement from the Sacramento Bee illustrates a key moment in the mall's history that is described in the article. The image is of lower resolution than the original (copies made would be of inferior quality). The image is not replaceable with free-use or public-domain image. The use of the image does not limit the copyright owners' rights to distribute the image in any way. The image is being used for non-profit, informational purposes only and its use is not believed to detract from the original image in any way.