Westcor expects at least 30,000 people Thursday for a pre-grand opening of SanTan Village, the regional shopping mall near the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202 and Williams Field Road in Gilbert.
“I want to spend some money there,” said Virgie Hacker, 91, of Gilbert.
Like many shoppers in Gilbert, Queen Creek and parts of Pinal County, Hacker has been looking forward to having a mall near her home and not having to drive all the way to Chandler Fashion Center at Loop 202 and Loop 101.
“It will be nice to have closer shopping,” said her son, 65-year-old Wil Hacker. “It keeps the money in the community, where it belongs.”
The mall’s first full day of business is Friday. The mall’s first phase, about 85 stores and restaurants, will be among the shopping center developer’s largest openings.
“It is unusual, actually,” said Sheila Hunter, senior property manager for the mall.
Construction on the mall began in fall 2006. In addition to the stores opening this week, several more will open by the end of the year to bring the total to about 100 stores and restaurants. When complete, the mall will be home to about 130 stores.
Westcor had nearly 90 percent of the mall spoken for when construction began, Hunter said.
Several big-box stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble are slated to open in 2008.
Much of the open-air mall, similar to Kierland Commons in Phoenix, will feature high-end fashion-related stores aimed at selling to the area’s family-oriented, higher-income demographic, Hunter said.
The mall’s layout is distributed by clientele. Shops near the Harkins movie theaters, which opened in March, and the food court are geared to teen shoppers. Farther down, near the playground and pop-up water-jet fountain play area, are shops geared to children, such as the Disney Store and Gymboree.
Gilbert resident Deena Commers, 38, said she’s been looking forward to the mall’s open-air design.
“Eating on the outdoor patios sounds nice,” she said.
Crews have been busy in recent weeks tailoring each store to fit individual retailers.
The 85 that have committed to the Friday opening will be expected to be ready, said Jennifer Munn, senior marketing manager for the mall.
Like most shopping centers, Westcor wanted SanTan Village open for business before this year’s holiday shopping season, Munn said.
Along with other duties, Munn had been in charge of planning the mall’s holiday decorations and events, which will include a 25-foot decorated tree and Santa Claus in the children’s play areas.
“We’re excited to see the holiday package,” Munn said.
If you go
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday: Community preview event, including live music, fashion show and fireworks show
9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday: Entire day filled with entertainment and a fashion show.
10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday: Continued entertainment and fashion shows
Noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday: Continued entertainment
When complete, the mall will be home to nearly 130 stores. Eighty-five will open Friday, including:
Aeropostale: Casual apparel for teens
Banana Republic: High-end apparel and accessories
Coach: Leather goods
Coldwater Creek: Women’s apparel, gifts and jewelry
Dillard’s: Department store
Fossil: Watches and accessories
Gordon Biersch: Specialty brewed beers and food
Hot Dog on a Stick: Corn dogs and lemonade
Industrial Rideshop: Skateboarding supplies
J. Jill: Upscale women’s fashions
Jos. A. Bank Clothier: Men’s tailored, casual clothing and accessories
Just Dogs Gourmet: Accessories, gifts and hand-cut, all-natural dog treats