Pleasant Hill, Calif.-Dying 1960s Mall

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Jason B.
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Pleasant Hill, Calif.-Dying 1960s Mall

Post by Jason B. » 26 Jun 2007 04:04

The former Contra Costa Center in Pleasant Hill, Calif. apparently is in its final months of life. The anchor tenant from 1962 to 2000 was Montgomery Ward. A Kohl's store now occupies that site. Today this center is also known for its domed movie theater, now known as "CineArts" -- it shows "arthouse" type films.

The center is located in the southeastern quadrant of the I-680/Monument Boulevard interchange in central Contra Costa County, approximately 30 miles east of San Francisco.

The "mall" appears as if it was open-air at one time, but later enclosed with glass walls. Most of the stores are now vacant. I was surprised that the "mall" interior was still open when I visited on June 9, 2007. An appliance store and a Dollar Tree discount store appear to be the last open businesses between the Kohl's and CineArts theater. A Chinese restaurant closed in early 2007. A Christian book store and Christian music store have closed. A bar/saloon and an exercise gym remain open but not in the main part of the "mall."

There is a distinction "Mall" sign, perhaps of 1960s vintage, in front of the CineArts theater. The connection between Kohl's and the mall presently is sealed.

When this center opened in the early 1960s, it was one of central Contra Costa County's retail hubs. Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek opened in the early 1950s; Sun Valley Mall along I-680 in Concord opened in the late 1960s. The Park and Shop Center in downtown Concord opened in the 1950s.

According to contemporary issues of the Concord Transcript, the Montgomery Ward in Pleasant Hill opened on October 4, 1962. It was the chain's 69th store since a major expansion program began in 1958. Ward's then had 531 stores nationwide -- its first retail store opened in 1926. At 180,000 square feet, the Pleasant Hill Montgomery Ward was touted as the largest single commercial addition in the history of central Contra Costa County. (The two levels together had 150,000 square feet -- the seasonal sales, garden shop, and auto service center encompassed 30,000 square feet.)

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Post by Groceteria » 26 Jun 2007 09:56

If anyone cares, here are some photos I took at the mall about three years ago. I've cut them down to a fairly small size, so they shouldn't slow things down too much.

This mall also had a Mayfair Market, which there's some discussion of here.

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Post by Groceteria » 26 Jun 2007 10:16

A 1964 tenant list:

-- Barber shop
-- Bond's
-- Cleaners/laundry
-- Gay Shop Women's
-- Cock 'n' Bull Restaurant
-- Howell & Gaynor Insurance
-- Wakins (sp?) Bakery
-- Bella Donna Beauty Shop
-- Citizens Federal Bank
-- Chicks Donuts
-- Kinney Shoes
-- Mayfair Market
-- Thrifty Drugs
-- Mode o' Day Womens

The center cost $4.5 million to build, was initially 244,000 square feet, and had an annual sales volume of $14.5 million.

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Contra Costa Center

Post by J-Man » 27 Jun 2007 01:25

I believe the theater was originally a single-screen operation, called either Century or Century 21. And at one time, the mall housed the only branch location of Oakland's famous Fenton's Creamery. It didn't last long-- only a few years in the 70s, I believe. Just this past month Fenton's opened another branch (still their only location outside of the original in Oakland) in the new Nut Tree complex in Vacaville.

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Re: Contra Costa Center

Post by Groceteria » 27 Jun 2007 09:08

J-Man wrote:I believe the theater was originally a single-screen operation, called either Century or Century 21.
That would make sense; there's an almost identical one near Santana Row in San Jose which is also called Century 21. It's been expanded and now includes a different building about a block away as well.

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tesg
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Post by tesg » 27 Jun 2007 21:14

It's definitely an old Century dome. It was probably an awesome single-screener.

Cine Arts is (was) Century's art house brand. (Century was acquired by Cinemark last year).

Nice pics.

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Post by justin karimzad » 27 Jun 2007 23:11

I think Contra Costa Center also had Edison Shoes, Lerner Shops, and JJ Newberry.

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Post by hushpuppy212 » 22 Jul 2007 11:25

Wasn't there a Fenton's Creamery there at one time?

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Re: Contra Costa Center

Post by justin karimzad » 22 Jul 2007 11:40

J-Man wrote:at one time, the mall housed the only branch location of Oakland's famous Fenton's Creamery. It didn't last long-- only a few years in the 70s, I believe. Just this past month Fenton's opened another branch (still their only location outside of the original in Oakland) in the new Nut Tree complex in Vacaville.

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Post by hushpuppy212 » 25 Jul 2007 13:25

There is another Fenton's branch in the new Southwest terminal expansion at the Oakland Airport. I had a black & tan there a few weeks ago and it was just as good as I remember it. It was the only time I was grateful for a flight delay. Sadly, being post-security, it is not available to the non-traveling public.

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Re: Pleasant Hill, Calif.-Dying 1960s Mall

Post by romleys » 06 Feb 2008 13:06

The interior portion of the mall was demolished during the final days of 2007:( One of the last original businesses (aside from Century) was Freidmans Appliance Store. The family owned store began decades ago with their first store in Oakland. To my knowledge the Pleasant Hill store is the last one remaining. The redevelopers are going to give Freidmans a new building on the site of their old location.
Charles H:)

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Re: Pleasant Hill, Calif.-Dying 1960s Mall

Post by Toby Radloff » 28 Mar 2008 23:42

I wonder if the CineArts once showed Cinerama films. The building reminds me of the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles.

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