COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE
El Camino and Watt Avenues
Sacramento County, California

The first regional-class shopping center in Greater Sacramento was designed by San Francisco's William B. David and developed by a joint venture of Sacramento's James J. Cordano Company and San Francisco's Blumenfield Enterprises.

COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE was built on a 37.3 acre plot, that was situated 7 miles north of the center city. Constructed on land originally acquired for a drive-in theater, the basic complex was implemented in six stages.

The first, consisting of twelve stores and services, opened for business August 21, 1952. Included in this group were Walgreen Drug, Emigh Hardware, W.T. Grant, Kid-E-Korral , Anita Shops, a (15,300 square foot) Lucky Stores supermarket, 2-level (23,000 square foot) J.C. Penney.

On hand for the official dedication were Billy Jack Wills & His Western Swing Band, The Kramers juggling act and clowns. Free pony rides were given to tots.   

An expansion completed in November 1953 added tenants such as Casual Corner, Fashion Fabrics, Hartfield's apparel, Mode O' Day Frock Shop, See's Candies, Singer Sewing Center and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. By 1954, there were also Joseph Magnin and a 3-level (240,000 square foot), Tacoma-based Rhodes Brothers.

The original strip complex was expanded with an open-air mall in the late 1950s. This was built onto the southwest corner of the existing structure. A formal dedication was held November 17, 1960, adding stores such as Roos-Atkins apparel, Grebitus & Sons Jewelers, The Toy Shop and Jay Vee ladies' wear.

Rhodes Brothers was acquired by Western Department Stores in 1960, with the official name of its operations shortened to Rhodes. In November 1969, the parent company was bought by Honolulu-based American Factors, Limited (AMFAC), who owned Hawaii's Liberty House chain. Soon after the merger, stores were promoted to as Liberty House / Rhodes. By 1976, this had been truncated to simply Liberty House.

In 1970, a fifth renovation and expansion got underway. The open-air concourse at the southwest corner was roofed-in and a 2-level parking deck installed beneath a portion of the complex. The new air-conditioned mallway featured terrazzo floors, nylon carpeting, fountains, statuary and tropical plantings. It was dedicated in September 1970.

A few years later, three inline stores on the east end of of the structure were demolished and replaced by a 2-level (147,200 square foot) Montgomery Ward. This store, which included a freestanding, 16-bay Auto Center, opened for business in March 1976. The mall now encompassed approximately 650,000 leasable square feet.

By this time, COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE had one retail rival. ARDEN FAIR CENTER {2 miles southwest, in Sacramento} had opened for business in 1961. COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA, built across Watt Avenue from COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE, opened during 1961, as well. However, it was developed -and operated- by the same company as COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE, so was not a commercial competitor.

By the early 1980s, COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE was in decline, with a proliferation of vacancies. Liberty House was shuttered in the summer of 1984, followed by Joseph Magnin, which ceased operation September 17, 1984. The struggling shopping venue was acquired by a joint venture of the Santa Monica-based Macerich Company and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

A prospective 5 million dollar renovation was announced in late 1984. This project would rebuild the mall, with its name being changed to SACRAMENTO PLACE. However, the remodeling never got off the ground. The mall, and moniker, remained as is. The struggling retail center was sold in June 1987 to a consortium of investors headed by Sacramento's Marvin "Buzz" Oates.

After a few false starts, a renovation of the virtually vacant complex got underway in early 1991. Inline store space on the west end was demolished, leaving the Rhodes / Liberty House structure standing. It was gutted and reconfigured as the Liberty Center office building. The remaining interior mallway was also gutted and refashioned into office space. The project was finished in mid-1992.

Late in the year, an outparcel Pace Membership Warehouse opened for business at the southwest corner of the mall site. It was rebranded as a Sam's Club in early 1994. The reconstituted shopping and office complex now spanned approximately 594,500 leasable square feet.

An exterior face lift was completed in December 2002, done in anticipation of the renovation of the Montgomery Ward, which had been shuttered in early 2001. It was rebuilt into a 2-level Wal-Mart, which was dedicated July 22, 2004.

In addition to WalMart and Sam's Club, COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE was now tenanted by Anna's Linens, See's Candies (a 1953 tenant), Michaels and offices for The State of California. Freestanding strip structures housed Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, SuperCuts, The UPS Store and Wells Fargo Bank.

The complex was sold to Tourmaline Capital Management, a San Diego-based investment company, in March 2015.

Sources:

www.valcomnews.com / Lance Armstrong
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster / Comment post by "Hushpuppy"
Comment post by Dave Fifer
www.buzzoates.com
www.costar.com
Sacramento Business Journal
Comment post by Randy