Galleria has calm, partial reopening
Amid smiles, hugs and a few tears, the first section of Galleria businesses reopened at 10 a.m. Thursday, one week after fires caused the biggest disaster in its 10-year history.
In all, 41 stores and restaurants welcomed shoppers in the south wing of the mall, where floor-to-ceiling barriers block any view of damaged areas.
“I’m impressed how fast it got open,” said Amy George, 31, of Roseville. “I missed it.”
The homemaker said her brother-in-law runs DeVons Jewelers, right below GameStop, where the fires began. Parts of his ceiling came down and water stained the wall and floors.
He has not been back inside the store since Oct. 21, when Alexander Piggee allegedly set fires at GameStop, evacuating the mall.
Tenants have toured their shops with city and mall officials to assess the impact.
City of Roseville building official Gene Paolini said he issued certificates of occupancy to the stores with fully working electrical, sprinkler and public address systems. Seventy of the green certificates have gone out, some now hanging in windows of open businesses.
Those with certificates that have yet to return are restocking and finalizing cleanup.
“It’s up to the stores when they want to open,” mall senior general manager Gavin Farnam said.
And that’s just phase one.
Paolini said phase two includes another 80 tenants with more severe water and smoke damage, chipping dry wall and bits of ceiling that have fallen.
The remaining 40 to 50 tenants in phase three lie at the heart of the original blaze at GameStop, where the roof collapsed, along with two large air conditioning units.
Approximately 1,000 workers have come on site to clean up the debris at the mall’s north end, while others were clearing the hallways right up to the 10 a.m. reopening, officials said.
“We worked all hours of the night together,” Farnam said of the Galleria’s collaboration with the city.
He added that Westfield took full control of the site Wednesday night, when it was no longer labeled a crime scene.
In the interim, many have feared Roseville and its businesses and residents will lose consumer dollars as shoppers go elsewhere.
Jim Dunham, of Rocklin, did just that. The Oct. 21 fires sent him to Sunrise Mall to nab a pair of shoes before a Takken’s sale ended.
They also threw off his schedule, as the 73-year-old likes to spend his retired days walking through the Galleria a few times a week.
“We could hardly wait to come back,” Jim Dunham said as he sipped from a McCafe cup at the mall food court.
the mall saw a placid re-entry into Roseville commerce. Patrons meandered through the halls, interested but calm as they watched the shopping center emerge from its largest crisis to date. Indeed, it seemed people came just as much to shop as to survey the wreckage. But for all the public could see – stores windows covered by butcher paper, bare mannequins, blocks of merchandise in plastic – Thursday differed little from a typical construction day during mall renovations.
Not that all fanfare was absent. A digital street sign announced to drivers from Highway 65 that the mall would open. Inside, one of three two-story walls hiding the ashes displayed quotations of support from residents. And Nordstrom unfurled a larger-than-life “open” sign where 35 shoppers entered to the applause of 50 employees in two lines – a practice usually reserved for grand openings.
Nordstrom saw the least damage of all anchor stores, thanks to its location and a metal garage door that fended off smoke. Spokeswoman Tara Darrow said the department store used more of its time out of commission for housecleaning than refurbishing.
“We feel for them,” she said of the tenants who got the brunt of the flames. “We could have been on the other end.”
Darrow then added, “We can’t wait for the rest of the mall to join us.”
Lien Hoang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
41 businesses reopened Thursday:
The Cheesecake Factory
Crate & Barrel
Dufaults Beauty Boutique & Salon
Gordon Biersch Tavern
Johnston & Murphy
Pottery Barn Kids
Rubio’s Fresh Mexican
Tiffany & Co.
Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen