A University Mall shopper walks past the Forever 21 store Thursday as employees clothe mannequins in preparation for Friday's "soft" opening and Saturday's grand opening. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo


Forever 21 opens Saturday

By March 31, 2011

Forever 21 will celebrate its grand opening Saturday in the former Gottschalks space at University Mall.

The store, which specializes in trendy, inexpensive women’s clothing and accessories, officially opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, following Friday’s soft opening, spokeswoman Kristin Loe confirmed Thursday.

Grand opening promotions include $10, $20, $50 and $100 gift cards for the first 200 customers, Loe said. Additionally, one customer will receive a $210 gift card and two raffle winners will receive a $210 gift card inside a Forever 21 handbag, Loe said.

The store has 143 employees; 100 are college students, presumably at UC Davis, she said.

Forever 21 signed the lease for the space last May after a year of negotiating with mall owner Centro Properties. Forever 21, based in Los Angeles, won an auction bid to occupy several former Gottschalks locations when the department store chain went bankrupt in 2009.

Renovations to the Forever 21 space also included the corridor area that served as an interior mall entrance to the adjacent Starbucks Coffee. A wall now separates the clothing store and cafe.

The new 38,418-square-foot store joins the recently opened Trader Joe’s market in University Mall. Trader Joe’s occupies a 12,880-square-foot building where Radiological Associates of Sacramento used to be.

RAS initially refused to move from the location to make way for the grocer, but ended up closing quietly in December 2009 after the firm lost its contract with Sutter Davis Hospital that fall.

In addition to Trader Joe’s and now Forever 21, Cost Plus World Market, a housewares retailer that opened several years ago, and the Davis Graduate also anchor the 98,500-square-foot mall.

The loss of Gottschalks and subsequent closures of several smaller stores had given rise to concerns in the community that the shopping center soon might become a ghost mall. Those fears were alleviated when Forever 21 signed the lease a year ago and even more so when Trader Joe’s opened in October.

In early March, however, Centro Properties’ financial problems became clear when the Australian-based company announced the sale of its 588 U.S. properties as part of a debt restructuring plan. Blackstone Real Estate Partners, based in New York, bought the portfolio for $9.4 billion. The sale is expected to close mid-year.

Stacy Slater, Centro’s senior vice president of investment management, said the sale will not affect the ongoing operations at University Mall.

— Reach Crystal Lee at [email protected] or (530) 747-8057.

Crystal Lee

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