Monday, July 18, 2011

Foothill Square Finds Fate By Flattening

One of only two mall's left in Oakland, Foothill Square between MacArthur and Foothill Boulevard is destined to be flattened by wrecking ball this year.

Foothill Square utilized the latest in shopping center design: a pedestrian mall down the center. Designed by world-famous Welton Becket & Associates (Ground Breaking Tomorrow, 1961), designers of the wildly successful Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, Foothill Square was conceived on a smaller scale. Instead of a Macy's or Capwell's anchor store, Foothill Square relied on the stalwart of community shopping centers: Lucky Stores, Thrifty Drug Store, and an S. S. Kresge Co. five-and-dime store (Ground Breaking Tomorrow). The pedestrian mall landscaping was designed by another world-famous landscape architect: Lawrence Halprin & Associates (Ground Breaking Tomorrow). These two amazing architects have been revered for their ingenuity and creativity, but Foothill Square has been a mostly forgotten creation.

Considered an eyesore by its neighbors, Foothill Square has not been updated since opening in 1962. The graceful sign adorning the MacArthur Freeway is suffering from rust and neglect. However, this year, the shopping center is being redeveloped. The front of the mall is to be demolished, new pads constructed, and the rear of the mall is to be given a new facade. Although the Foothill Square Redevelopment project promises to revitalize a once proud shopping center, one can be saddened by the loss of a Welton Becket design.

The demolition of Foothill Square comes on the heels of another recent Oakland mall demolition, MacArthur/Broadway Center (aka, M/B "Center"). Oakland will currently be host to only one remaining mall, Eastmont Town Center. Although, Eastmont Town Center is considered a mixed-use center and not devoted entirely to fashion-oriented shopping. Oakland could be the only city of its size without a significant regional or superregional shopping center.

Goodbye Foothill Square.

"Ground Breaking Tomorrow." Oakland Tribune. Nov. 7, 1961. p. 12-D. Retrieved July 18, 2011 from online database.


Hushpuppy212 said...

I used to drive by this center when I took the MacArthur Freeway from San Francisco to my office in Pleasanton. I got off the freeway once to have a look but it wasn't worth the trip (and this was in the late 80's!). I remember H. Liebes, the San Francisco-based women's store, had a branch here until they closed in 1971.

Unknown said...

Emeryville stole the regional mall role from Oakland long ago.