Merced Mall plans still moving forward, developer says. Here's what to expect in 2024
There's still activity on the project pending at Merced City Hall. Here's where things stand
By VICTOR A. PATTON
MERCED, Calif – Although the Christmas season inevitably brings a flurry of shopping activity to the Merced Mall, 2023 will ultimately end without the gift that local residents and retailers desire the most – the completion of long-promised renovations.
In fact, it doesn’t appear any work has happened at all, since CVJC broke the news an Aug. 9 business permit had been filed with the City of Merced to renovate the old Sears building on the west side of the mall.
CVJC also reported Codding Enterprises of Santa Rosa, which owns the majority of the mall with the exception of the old Sears building, had put its section up for sale, and that a potential buyer had been selected.
So where do things stand now?
CVJC reached out to Ralph Deppisch, director of development for Sage Investco, the Newport Beach-based owner of the old Sears Building.
Deppisch explained Sage Investco’s section of the mall is still going through plan check review with Merced city staff. Planners at City Hall also confirmed as much to CVJC.
Although there were initial plans to possibly begin construction on the project in November, Deppisch said he’s now looking at mid-January. “We’re looking forward to breaking ground,” Deppisch said.
Things also appear to be still in play for the majority portion of the mall that’s owned by Codding Enterprises. Codding put its part of the mall up for sale earlier this year, with an asking price of $32.2 million, Bay Area real estate publication The Registry reported.
Kaylee Stock, spokesperson for Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, the company involved in the sale, told CVJC in September a buyer for Codding Enterprises’ property had been selected.
On Thursday, Stock told CVJC the escrow process for the sale is still ongoing. The name of the potential buyer still has not been released.
Sections of the mall remain closed
The renovations on the old Sears building can’t come soon enough for Merced residents.
Right now, what’s left of the building is a skeleton of gray walls and bare metal beams amid abandoned scaffolding.
The Merced Sears store closed after the company announced Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018. Sage Investco announced in April it had bought the property.
Once the renovation is complete, potential tenants include Ulta, Five Below, Petco, Burlington and Mattress Firm.
The estimated cost of the 91,174 square foot construction project at the old Sears building is $4.5 million, according to the building permit application.
The eastern section of the mall next to the Kohl’s store – an area that once housed a CVS store – remains closed. The other half of the mall remains open for business, including the food court and a variety of shops and retailers.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, Codding had ambitious plans to renovate the eastern side of the mall, with the vision of building a Cinemark Theater. In recent years, even after the end of the pandemic, that project has not moved forward.
Victor A. Patton is the interim editor-in-chief for the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative, a nonprofit newsroom based in Merced.