Elk Grove ‘ghost mall’ site purchased after nearly 10 years in limbo

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ELK GROVE, Calif. (KTXL) — The site of the Elk Grove Mall that stood uncompleted for nearly a decade now has new owners.

Dubbed the “ghost mall,” it has been purchased by an arm of Boyd Gaming, a Las Vegas-based group that is affiliated with the Wilton Rancheria Casino Project, which is next to the site.

The “ghost mall” was a victim of horrendous timing — a premium mall planned as the Great Recession kicked in in 2007.

The Howard Hughes Corporation eventually bought the 107-acre site in bankruptcy and completed plans for a high-end outlet mall with a 14-screen multiplex and a central public space for entertainment activities.

The purchase renewed hopes by city officials who wanted to bring retail tax dollars as well as amenities to a growing city, but the Hughes ownership couldn’t pull the trigger as online shopping made recruiting national retailers too difficult.

Unfinished buildings on the site were eventually demolished.

The city of Elk Grove welcomes the sale, officials said.

“The purchase of the former mall property by Boyd Gaming, it really represents a fresh start for that property,” said Darrell Doan, the economic development director of Elk Grove.

Boyd Gaming owns nearly 30 gaming operations in 10 states, including a dozen in Las Vegas.

“They are well-capitalized, committed to working with the city and we’re looking forward to working with them,” Doan told FOX40.

The Wilton Rancheria said the purchase shows a commitment to Elk Grove and its planned $400 million casino resort, which sits next to the mall property.     

The casino on the land in is federal trust, outside the control of the city.

“So, the city has land-use authority over it, which is why we’re going to be able to work closely with Boyd to chart the course for the future of development of that property,” Doan explained.

Putting the property into federal trust to expand the casino project is not out of the question, but Boyd Gaming is not tipping its hand just yet.

City officials said they want the site used for a regional destination and retail, entertainment or recreational uses are wide open.

Elk Grove city officials said whatever will be proposed for the site will go through the usual permit procedures, which means plenty of opportunity for public input before anything is approved.

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