Arden and Ethan Ways
Sacramento County (Sacramento), California

In December 1954, details about a new Greater Sacramento shopping hub were announced. SWANSTON ESTATES CENTER would be built on a 73.6 acre plot, located 4.5 miles northeast of Sacramento's center city, and be developed by Philip F. Heraty and William Gannon.

The future shopping center site was situated in an unincorporated section of Sacramento County known as Arden-Arcade. 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.

Meanwhile, the name of the prospective retail complex had been changed to ARDEN FAIR CENTER. The first operational store, a 1-level (156,700 square foot) Sears, was completed in 1957. In 1960-1961, an open-air mall was added to the east side of Sears. In addition to Sears, the complex was anchored by a 3-level (205,000 square foot), Sacramento-based Hale's. This store welcomed its first shoppers on August 10, 1961.

Inline stores in the single-level ARDEN FAIR CENTER included Thom McAn Shoes, The Carousel restaurant, Leed's Qualicraft Shoes, Roger's Jewelers, Lane Bryant, Roberta Schneider Stationary, Gourmet Nut Center and F.W. Woolworth and S.H. Kress 5 & 10s.

A freestanding store structure was eventually built east of Hale's and was developed by Sacramento's Kassis Brothers (Frank, Edward, Lewis, Walter and John). The building encompassed 120,000 leasable square feet and housed five tenant spaces. Among these were Thrifty Drug, Cork 'n Bottle Liquors and an S & H Green Stamps Redemption Center.

A Stop-N-Shop Market grocery store opened in the outparcel building on December 10, 1964. The (35,000 square foot) Food Circus "restaurant arcade" was dedicated March 24, 1965. The Food Circus was a 17-bay, cafeteria-style collection of eateries and food stores, something akin to today's shopping mall food court. Vendors included Die Rheinlander, Carnation Ice Cream, La Plaza and See's Candies.

The mall site, originally within unincorporated Sacramento County, had been 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 (1971) and SUNRISE MALL (1972) {9.7 miles northeast, in Citrus Heights}.

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

An enclosing renovation was done in 1970-'71, with the retail facility known, henceforth, as ARDEN FAIR CENTER MALL. A multiplex, the Transcontinental Theatres Arden Fair 4, was added to the north side of the mall during the enclosing renovation. It was in operation by May 1970.

The center was acquired by Sacramento-based Fulcrum Property in 1973. 10 years later, they performed a face lift renovation and expansion, adding 75,000 square feet of retail area. The project was completed in June 1984, with the mall encompassing approximately 850,000 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 made its debut.

This was followed by the first stage of openings in the mall's new Second Level, which took place May 5, 1990. A second stage of openings included restaurants in a 12-bay Food Court, which opened in June of the same year.

The 2-year-long -60 million dollar- remodeling was dedicated with Circus Gala Fantastique, a one hundred dollar-per-person charity party. The shopping center was now officially known as ARDEN FAIR.

J.C. Penney, who had been trying to begin construction on an ARDEN FAIR store for over a year, had been delayed by the City of Sacramento. The powers that be were concerned over the increase of vehicular traffic 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 spanned 1,108,800 leasable square feet and contained one hundred and sixty-five stores and services. It was now the region's second-largest shopping venue, with SUNRISE MALL being the largest.

The old Food Circus outparcel structure was renamed MARKET SQUARE AT ARDEN FAIR. It was retenanted by the United Artists Arden Fair 6, which was a relocation of an in-mall 6-screen venue that had been displaced by J.C. Penney. The new cinema was dedicated in November 1992.

This debut was followed by ones for California Pizza Kitchen (April 1993), Barnes & Noble (August 1993) and a Virgin Megastore (November 1994). In 1995, the "convenience center" was totally renovated inside and out. In the mall proper, Weinstock's was rebranded by Macy's 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. Soon after, the mall faced a new retail rival. GALLERIA AT ROSEVILLE {14.5 miles northeast, in Roseville}, was dedicated in August 2000.

Today, ARDEN FAIR houses one hundred and sixty-five retailers. These include Forever 21, Ann Taylor, New York & Company, BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, Seasons 52 restaurant, Foot Locker, Zumiez and Gamestop. The complex is managed by the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company.


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


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.