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By Mike Hazlip –
Social distancing wasn’t an issue at Sunrise Mall on Black Friday, as shoppers perused the mostly vacant mall without facing lines of traffic and packed parking lots.
At 9 a.m., only a handful of shoppers could be seen inside the mall, despite stores advertising significant discounts. While additional shoppers trickled in by noon in search of Black Friday deals, it was evident that COVID-19 shutdowns and decreased foot traffic have exacerbated an already dire situation for the aging retail center.
Space after space inside the mall remains vacant, with the lettering removed from signage leaving a ghostly outline of the logos that once branded the stores. Latest casualties include closures of the “As Seen on TV” store, Lane Bryant, Baskin Robbins, and Victoria’s Secret.
In contrast to the scene at Sunrise Mall, parking lots of the nearby Lowe’s and Target stores were mostly full. The Galleria at Roseville also had parking lots filled on Friday, and Roseville Police posted a traffic advisory announcing actions that would be taken to slow the flow of traffic if needed.
Despite a lack of crowds at Sunrise Mall, foot traffic picked up somewhat throughout the morning, and a line of shoppers could be seen outside Bath and Body Works at the south end of the mall. A sales associate for the store said they were limiting the number of customers inside to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Another mall retail store, Zumiez, also saw more customers than usual Friday. A manager said sales have been up slightly, since reopening.
Carol Jacober, of Citrus Heights, said she came to the mall to do some Christmas shopping and take advantage of the sales.
“We’ve lived here for 20 years and we come to the mall quite often,” she said. “This is closer, it’s convenient, and the prices are right.”
Kayla Naylor and Kody Torrez were window shopping and looking for gift ideas. Naylor said she was a regular shopper at Sunrise Mall when it was more popular. Torrez appreciated the reduced crowds.
“The Galleria and other places are just way too packed right now,” Torrez said.
Several vacant store fronts inside the mall hint at a brighter future on the horizon, with poster boards hanging in the windows showing plans for “Sunrise Tomorrow,” the city’s plan to guide redevelopment of the 100-acre mall property.
A preferred design selected by the City Council envisions the creation of a pedestrian-friendly “main street” in the middle of the mall property, with mixed-use housing and office space situated above stores and restaurants lining the street. A new two-acre park would also be situated at the center of the site, creating a “town square.”
The city is currently wrapping up an extensive environmental review for a Specific Plan, which is to serve as a guide for redevelopment of the privately owned mall property through the planning process. The plan was developed after several community meetings and collaboration with owners of the mall and other stakeholders.
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