By Lance Armstrong - Citizen Staff Writer
The demolition of the long-abandoned ‘Ghost Mall’ at Highway 99 and Kammerer Road is nearing completion.
Construction on the mall halted 11 years ago, and its developer, The Howard Hughes Corp., officially abandoned the project this January.
The demolition of the partially built mall structures was divided into two, separate projects, which both began on Feb. 1.
About 98 percent of the structures have been torn down on the south part of the site.
As of last week, several low-level, small concrete structures were still standing on the Howard Hughes-owned property.
The other project to remove four buildings on the 36-acre north side of the site was completed on Feb. 28 on property owned by the Wilton Rancheria tribe. Cleanup of that property was finished on March 5.
The tribe has proposed constructing a casino-resort on its property, with a target opening date in late 2020.
Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly commented on Howard Hughes’ decision to abandon the mall project.
“Everyone in Elk Grove is disappointed what didn’t happen, but for me, I see this as a new beginning, a new opportunity that will come,” he said. “Something will come there, so that’s what I’m looking forward to and that’s what I’m excited about.”
The mayor added that he is interested in working with the property’s owner to have a project built on the south part of the site that would complement the casino-resort.
Wilton Rancheria Tribal Chair Raymond Hitchcock said the demolition company worked 10-hour days and five days per week, excepting days with severe weather conditions, to complete the tribe’s demolition and cleanup project.
“They did a fabulous job,” Hitchcock said. “They were very meticulous and kept a very clean site. Obviously, we wanted to protect any ground disturbance and make sure that no silt got in the storm drains.
“Protections were put in place as a requirement and as stewards of the land to protect the environment as we were doing the demolition. And we’re very pleased, and the site looks immaculate.”
Hitchcock noted that the concrete pads and asphalt on the tribe’s property will be removed in a few months, following the rainy season. That project will take four to six weeks to complete and will include the grinding of materials for future use within the site’s new footprint.
Hitchcock said in-ground infrastructure work will also be performed on the tribe’s property and that construction on the project would need to begin later this year to maintain the tribe’s plan to open the casino in late 2020.
Hitchcock recognized that the tribe is working with an aggressive timeline to meet its goal.
“We’ve always been overzealous in our dates, but we always try to be optimistic, and hopefully things move in our favor to continue to keep the ball rolling in the right direction,” he said.
Work continues on the separate project at the Howard Hughes-owned property.
Hitchcock stated that although he is not certain, he believes that the demolition and cleanup on the Howard Hughes property will take at least a week to complete.
“I imagine that they have at least another week out here to clean the site up to standards to match what we’ve done here,” he said.
Howard Hughes did not respond to a request for comment, as of press time.