It was a grandest day, to hear the dignitaries tell it.

"It's a day of celebration and a day of tribute," said Mayor Bill Barone. "We as citizens can be very proud of what we've accomplished and of what we see because we've done it all together." Other notables called it "fantastic" and "a very joyous occasion." They all wore flowers on their lapels, pinned there by performers wearing tuxedos and top hats. The Santa Rosa High School marching band played the Rocky theme song and oddly, the "thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat" background music from ABC's Wide World of Sports.

This was happening at the 1982 ribbon-cutting for the mall, which the mayor crowed was "the new heart of our city."

Mall developer Ernest Hahn was also on hand and said he was gratified by all those who supported the project "through thick and thin." The shopping center was going to provide 2,000 permanent new jobs with an annual payroll of $20 million. Oh, sure, only about sixty of the 130 spaces were actually leased at the time, but by the end of the year he expected full occupancy.

What a difference a year makes. In early January 1983 - roughly 300 days since the grand opening - Hahn Inc. sold the mall. Over half the spaces were never rented, and after a lousy Christmas shopping season prospects grew even dimmer as eight tenants moved out.

The Press Democrat had printed countless front page articles and feature spreads cheering for Hahn and portraying the mall as a no-risk road to riches while damning Hugh Codding and other skeptics. Yet when the end came, the PD buried the bombshell story of Hahn's hasty departure in a 500-word item on page eight of a mid-week edition.

The rest of this article can be read at the website. Because of recurring problems with the Blogger platform, I am no longer wasting my time formatting and posting complete articles here. I will continue to create stubs for the sake of continuity, but will be publishing full articles only at - Jeff Elliott


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