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Eastmont Town Center
Aerial view of Eastmont Town Center, October 2020.JPG
Aerial view of Eastmont Town Center in October 2020
LocationFrick, Oakland, California, United States[1]
Opening dateMay 18, 1966 (May 18, 1966) (56 years ago)[2]
OwnerVertical Ventures
ArchitectWilliam Pereira

Eastmont Town Center is a shopping mall and social services hub[3] located on 33 acres (130,000 m2) bounded by Foothill Boulevard, Bancroft Avenue, 73rd Avenue, and Church Street, in the Frick neighborhood of East Oakland.[1] The mall opened in phases between 1966 and 1974 on the site of a 1920s-era Chevrolet automobile factory called Oakland Assembly (itself shut down in 1963 with General Motors moving operations to a new plant in suburban Fremont). Architect William Pereira designed the building. It is physically almost next to, and by entry access a few blocks away from the similarly sized Evergreen Cemetery. The official grand opening ceremony was held in November 1970.[4]

History

A "dead" corridor inside the mall in 2014
A "dead" corridor inside the mall in 2014

Originally known as Eastmont Mall, the mall was a popular and heavily used shopping destination during most of the 1970s and 1980s, but declined by the 1990s due to a huge drop in the average income level, and a concurrent increase in the crime rate in the mall and the surrounding neighborhoods.[5]

Eastmont's primary anchor tenants were JCPenney, Mervyns, Woolworth's (including a lunch counter), Safeway, Pay 'n Save, Kinney Shoes, Gallenkamp Shoes and Thom McAn, those three among the nation's leading shoe retailers at the time. Hickory Farms had a location in Eastmont Mall, and there were also branches of Smiths and Roos/Atkins, both popular regional men's clothing stores. The mall also housed a Syufy movie theater, opened in 1971, with four screens. Food choices included Orange Julius, Karmelkorn and the H. Salt Esquire fast-food seafood chain.

There is a four-story standalone building on the property behind (what was) the JCPenney parking structure, which in the early days of the mall was known as the "professional building." Completed in the fall of 1969, it housed temporary employment offices for the department stores in preparation for their openings, as well as various real estate, insurance, financial and medical offices serving the community, but suffered decline with the rest of the mall as the years progressed.

The Safeway store was actually part of the first phase of the mall, a freestanding location fronting Bancroft Avenue. Official groundbreaking ceremonies were held in September 1965, and the Safeway opened in the spring of 1966.[6] The other stores adjacent to it were opened by 1967. The JCPenney wing, first announced in October 1966,[7] began construction in 1968.[2] That store, which officially opened in October 1970, would replace a longtime downtown Oakland location at 11th and Washington streets (which shut down in April 1971[8]), and would be torn down to make way (in part) for the City Center redevelopment project.

The Mervyn's location was first announced in the spring of 1973 for a summer 1974 opening.[9][10] The opening of the Marvyn's marked the completion of the entire mall.

Eastmont's JCPenney store was notable in that the signage for it, outdoors and at the inside entrances, was never converted to the "JCPenney" logo, rendered in the Helvetica font, introduced chain-wide beginning in 1970 (but not fully implemented in catalogs and print advertising until 1972) and installed in all subsequently built Bay Area locations (including Richmond's Hilltop Mall); the Eastmont location always retained the older "Penneys" logo as originally introduced in 1963, right up until the store shut down (all signage and advertising inside the store itself always conformed to then-current branding). This may have been intentionally done by JCPenney to protect the trademark on the older logo.

Eastmont Mall became the only remaining indoor mall in Oakland after the closure of the mid-1960s-era MacArthur-Broadway Center in North Oakland in the mid-1990s.

Chevrolet automobile plant production, ca 1917, San Leandro Hills in background.
Chevrolet automobile plant production, ca 1917, San Leandro Hills in background.

JCPenney and Mervyns closed their Eastmont locations in the early 1990s. In the early 2000s, the mall was only 30 percent leased and had fallen into bankruptcy. Local real estate developers purchased the mall in 2000, and emphasized a focus on neighborhood and community services; many of the abandoned retail stores were converted into office space. The Mervyns location was converted into a substation for the Oakland Police Department and the JCPenney location was converted into a community medical clinic operated by Alameda Health System. A handful of existing retail tenants stayed on, and a few new ones were attracted due to the success of the renovations, including Gazzali's Market (opened 2004), the only supermarket to serve the surrounding neighborhoods (this supermarket was a Safeway, as noted above, during the center's earliest years). In the spring of 2007, the mall was sold to a group of real estate investors based in Oregon.

In 2006–07, the four-story standalone office building was converted as an adaptive reuse project into Miley Gardens, a residential senior housing complex.[11]

A $6 million renovation of the property was completed in July 2008. The interior was brightened, new lighting, skylights and seating areas were installed, escalators and elevators were given an upgrade and the parking areas received new landscaping.

Currently, the mall houses the supermarket, a Social Security office, a branch of the Oakland Public Library, Alameda Health System's Eastmont Wellness Center, General Assistance and WIC offices, and other small businesses and social service organizations. There is a Rainbow discount clothing store, one of the few national retailers in the mall.

Eastmont was sold for $54.5 million in 2015 to Vertical Ventures, a private equity investment firm based in Walnut Creek (one of the East Bay's local suburbs).[12]

Bus station

The Eastmont Transit Center bus station adjacent to the mall opened on March 4, 2001. The Eastmont Transit Center is the second largest bus station in East Oakland after Fruitvale station, serving 15 routes that carry over 25,000 passengers a day combined.[13]

Eastmont Transit Center
Eastmont Transit Center in 2014.jpg
Eastmont Transit Center in 2014
General information
Location7029-7085 Foothill Boulevard
Oakland, California
United States
Coordinates37°46′08″N 122°10′27″W / 37.768764°N 122.174138°W / 37.768764; -122.174138Coordinates: 37°46′08″N 122°10′27″W / 37.768764°N 122.174138°W / 37.768764; -122.174138
Line(s)Bus transport AC Transit: NL, NX3, 40, 45, 57, 73, 98, 638, 657, 680, 805, 840
Bus transport Alameda County East Oakland Shuttle
Platforms9 bays[14]
Construction
Disabled accessDisabled access
History
OpenedMarch 4, 2001[15]

Bus service

The following AC Transit routes serve the Eastmont Transit Center station:[14]

The fare free Alameda County East Oakland Shuttle also connects the Social Security Administration Office at Eastmont Town Center with Oakland Coliseum station.[16]

References

  1. ^ a b Frick, Oakland, CA neighborhood | Nextdoor
  2. ^ a b "Oakland's Eastmont Mall". Mall Hall of Fame. Blogger.com. May 6, 2007. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  3. ^ "Eastmont Town Center Renovation & Adaptive Reuse".
  4. ^ "New Eastmont Mall Opens, Beauty in Terrazo & Tile". Oakland Tribune. November 17, 1970. p. 2-EA.
  5. ^ "Failed" Bay Area mall sold for $54.5 million, From the San Francisco Business Times website, accessed Jan 30, 2018
  6. ^ "Groundbreaking for Big Eastmont Center". Oakland Tribune. September 14, 1965. p. 14.
  7. ^ Willis, Wallace C. (October 21, 1966). "Penney's Plans Eastmont Store". Oakland Tribune. p. 61.
  8. ^ "Penneys: Downtown Store Will Be Closed". Oakland Tribune. January 14, 1971. p. 9.
  9. ^ "Mervyn's Oakland Store Due". Oakland Tribune. May 14, 1973. p. 11.
  10. ^ "Eastmont Mall Near 4th Phase". Oakland Tribune. June 12, 1974. p. 9.
  11. ^ "Eastmont Properties Company". akama.com. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  12. ^ "Vertical Ventures Announces the Purchase of Eastmont Town Center in Oakland, CA - The Registry". The Registry. 2015-03-27. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  13. ^ Appendix A Performance Data for Transit Operators Serving Alameda County June 2015 (Starts at Page A-1)
  14. ^ a b Eastmont Transit Center Map
  15. ^ AC Transit’s Attractive New Eastmont Transfer Center Open for Business March 4
  16. ^ "Shuttles to County Buildings". Alameda County. 2016. Retrieved February 8, 2018.