Coddingtown Mall, in the Sonoma County city of Santa Rosa, is one of the largest and oldest malls north of San Francisco along the California coast. Unfortunately it seems to be a bit troubled nowadays, but historic mall geeks may find a lot to love. Let’s take a look:
Coddingtown Mall opened in 1961 just off US 101 in the city of Santa Rosa, the population and business hub of California’s wine country region. The Coddingtown Mall’s most notable feature is a spinning neon pylon–original from its construction–that continues to spin today. Look:
I had a bit of a hard time cobbling together much history about the center, but it apparently began as an outdoor mall before being enclosed sometime later. Although the 800,000 square foot mall’s recent anchor roster was Gottschalk’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, and Ralph’s supermarket, the Gottschalk’s wing is of somewhat newer vintage and the Macy’s store was almost certainly originally an Emporium location.
Due to the Coddingtown Mall’s age and the fact that it began life as an outdoor mall, it has some pretty neat interior and exterior architecture. The inside, in particular, caught my eye; the mall’s corridors are wide and sunny, adorned in wood beams as a nod to the redwood-filled nature of this part of Northern California, and there are various grade changes throughout. It seems most modern malls are on sites that were so heavily graded before construction that there’s none of these interesting slopes and sub-levels anymore, but these variations make the interior of the mall more entertaining and pleasant.
Codding Enterprises, owners of the mall, were aware by 2005 that the aging center would need an upgrade to keep up with the larger and newer Santa Rosa Plaza in downtown Santa Rosa, so they inked a deal with Simon Property Group to update and revamp the aging plaza. From a 2005 newspaper article:
A hint of what those changes might be can be found on Simon’s Web site, which shows a “proposed bookstore” where Big 5 Sporting Goods is located. A “proposed restaurant” is also shown over the Narsi’s space, while another “proposed restaurant” and “proposed theater above retail” are shown in the space where Old Navy is located.
One of the first fruits of the Coddingtown Mall redevelopment appeared in 2008, when an expansion project began to replace the former Ralph’s grocery store with a Whole Foods–somewhat of an unusual choice for an enclosed shopping mall–but construction on this has recently halted as a result of the economy and the mall’s increasing misfortunes. Whole Foods claims they are committed to open the store by fall 2010, however. During the same timeframe, one of the mall’s three main anchors–Gottschalks–went out of business, creating a large vacancy that will prove difficult to fill.
The photos here were all taken in October of 2008–just about a year ago–and show that while the mall isn’t exactly thriving, it’s filled with a mixture of national and local tenants and seems to be hanging on. However, this was fairly soon after the economic collapse of 2008, and as a result the mall has fared somewhat worse since–just check out this article from the Press Democrat about how many stores closed in early 2009.
As the closures continued, the local half of the ownership team–Codding Enterprises–stepped back in to take a more active role in managing the center, apparently unhappy with Simon’s inattention to the center’s decline.
More on Coddingtown Mall: