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

Three shopping mall's opened for business in -and around- California's capital during the year 1961. Two of these, SOUTHGATE CENTER and COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA, were developed by a joint venture of Sac-Town's James J. Cordano Company and San Francisco's Blumenfield Enterprises (the same concerns that had built Greater Sacramento's COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE).

COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA was constructed on a 29.5 acre plot, located across Watt Avenue from COUNTRY CLUB CENTRE. The COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA site was situated 7 miles north of center city Sacramento.

The first structure built for the PLAZA property housed a Stop-N-Shop Market grocery store and Arthur Murray Dance Studio. These opened for business in 1958. An open air mall was added to the north side of the grocery store in the early 1960s, which included an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

The expanded shopping complex was anchored by a 4-level (169,000 square foot), Sacramento-based Weinstock-Lubin, which opened for business March 4, 1961. The first anchor store rebranding at the mall took place in 1967, when the Weinstock-Lubin branding was shortened to Weinstock's.

COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA was given a 6 million dollar renovation in 1970-1971. A 2-level (194,000 square foot) J.C. Penney was added, taking the place of the supermarket. Two eastern store blocks were also built. These connected with the existing structures via an enclosed mallway.

The remodeling project was completed in October 1971. Mall stores and services included Bank of America, Florsheim Shoes, Marlene's ladies' wear, Pied Piper Hobby & Crafts, Waldenbooks and Wherehouse Records.

Retail hubs in the vicinity of COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA included TOWN & COUNTRY VILLAGE (1947) {1.1 miles northwest, in Sacramento County}, ARDEN FAIR CENTER (1961) {2.3 miles southwest, in Sacramento County} and SUNRISE MALL (1972) {7.3 miles northeast, in Sacramento County / Citrus Heights}.

COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA was given minor renovations during the 1980s. In July 1994, its J.C. Penney relocated to a newly-expanded ARDEN FAIR mall. The vacated store at COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA re-opened, as a Fresno-based Gottschalks, November 1, 1994.

The Los Angeles-based Carter-Hawley-Hale conglomerate, which included Weinstock's, was sold to Cincinnati-based Federated Stores in August of 1995. The COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA Weinstock's was "Macy-ated" in the spring of 1996.

By this time, COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA had declined into a dated and nearly obsolete shopping center. It was acquired by Scottsdale-based Arizona Partners in 2001. A 25 million dollar "remalling" began in 2002.

This project entailed the partial demolition of the existing mall, leaving its steel grid and two anchor stores intact. A new, enclosed structure was built between Macy's and Gottschalks, with an additional 100,000 square feet of retail area added on the east side.

The new and improved COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA debuted November 15, 2003. Included were big box stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sport Chalet and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse. The PLAZA now encompassed over 700,000 leasable square feet and housed fifty-two retail spaces.

The center was sold to Manhattan Beach, California-based LaeRoc Partners, in 2006. Hard times hit the retail industry 2 years later. Inline stores at COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA, such as American Eagle Outfitters and Pac Sun, were shuttered.

Gottschalks closed in April 2009. A plan for Forever 21 to lease the vacant store space was nixed by Macy's, whose lease stipulated that the mega-retailer had the final say in who could -or could not- lease the vacant south anchor building.

COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA struggled to keep what tenants it had. The owner defaulted on its mall loan in November 2009. They put the complex up for sale in early 2010 and -again- in May 2013. There were no takers. Meanwhile, news surfaced of another prospective tenant for the empty Gottschalks.

Boise-based Winco Foods was to acquire the building and remove its upper level. They would then renovate and occupy the remainder of the structure. However, in June 2013, the local press was announcing that the deal was off.

This report came on the heels of some equally distressing news concerning the Bed, Bath & Beyond and Ross Dress For Less stores that had been operating in the shopping center since the early 2000s. Both would move to new quarters in TOWN & COUNTRY VILLAGE in July 2014.

In June 2014, a buyer was finally found for the struggling mall. San Francisco's EDM Realty bought the complex and began to retenant its vacant store space. A deal was also finalized with Winco Foods in September 2014. They would be remodeling -and retenanting- the vacant Gottschalks. Work got underway in June 2015.

A new year brought bad tidings. Cincinnati-based Macy's Inc. announced, in early January, that its COUNTRY CLUB PLAZA store would be closing for good. The store went dark March 20, 2016. However, the new Winco Foods was dedicated September 1, 2016, followed by the debut of the Cinema West 13 megaplex, in the spring of 2018.

Sources:

"BigMallRat's Editorial Review: Country Club Plaza" / Scott P. webmaster
Weinstock's article on Wikipedia
Comment posts by Randy and Dave Fifer
www.countryclubplazamall.com
Retail Traffic / "To Demolish Or Not To Demolish" / December 2003
www.bizjournals.com