EASTRIDGE CENTER
Tully and Quimby Roads
San Jose, California

Illinois' Homart Development and Michigan's Taubman Centers teamed up in the late 1960s, forming a joint venture to build shopping malls. Along with Marshall Field & Company, they constructed Chicagoland's 1.5 million square foot WOODFIELD, which, by the end of 1971, was one of the largest fully-enclosed shopping malls in the world.

Over on the nation's "Left Coast", a sister shopping center, also developed by the Homart / Taubman consortium, had been dedicated May 17 of the same year. Plans for EASTRIDGE CENTER had been announced in February 1968. The 1.2 million square foot, 32 million dollar shopopolis was to occupy a 95.8 acre plot, located 1.7 miles northeast of Center City San Jose.

EASTRIDGE featured 2 full levels of retail, with a third -sub- level situated at two of the corners of its spacious Grand Court. This design feature was used in Chicagoland's WOODFIELD MALL and also at Taubman's FAIRLANE TOWN CENTER (1976), in Dearborn, Michigan. In keeping with the times, the interior of EASTRIDGE CENTER was decorated with "mod" Constructivist statuary and flowing, multilevel fountains.

The complex was anchored by a 3-level (187,000 square foot) Macy's San Francisco, 3-level (185,000 square foot), Honolulu-based Liberty House, 2-level (192,500 square foot) Sears and 2-level (133,700 square foot) J.C. Penney. The EASTRIDGE Penney's, dedicated  May 12, 1971, was noteworthy as being one of the last stores to be branded with the "New Look", circa-1963, "Penneys" nameplate.

Among the mall's one hundred and fifty-four stores were Joseph Magnin, See's Candies, Jarman Shoes, Petries, Size 5-7-9 Shops, Albert's Hosiery, Singer Sewing Center, Le Petit Cafe, Tiffany's Bakery and Thayer-McNeil Shoes. There was also an 18,100 square foot Ice Arena.

Commercial competitors included VALLEY FAIR MALL (1956) {6.7 miles west, in San Jose}, WESTGATE MALL (1960) {9.5 miles southwest, in Campbell}, OAKRIDGE MALL (1971) {5.4 miles southwest, in San Jose} and -eventually- GREAT MALL OF THE BAY AREA (1994) {7.3 miles northwest, in Milpitas}.

A succession of anchor store nameplate changes at EASTRIDGE got underway in 1977, when Liberty House was sold to (and rebranded by) the San Francisco-based Emporium chain. A subsequent rebranding took place 2 years later, when the store became a Bay Area-based Emporium-Capwell.

This moniker lasted until 1990, when it was truncated back to simply The Emporium. The store closed for good January 31, 1996 and was to sit vacant for 7 years.

Plans for an expansion of the mall had become a hotly-debated local issue in late 1986. Mall owners and the operators of the adjacent Reed-Hillview Airport fought for years. The mall parking lot had become rather infamous as the site for several plane crashes and missed landings.

The operators of the airport argued that an 8-screen multiplex, proposed for EASTRIDGE, would block access to their runway. The mall owners -and some citizens- stipulated that the airport constituted a safety hazard and should be shut down.

A compromise, of sorts, was finally worked out. The airfield remained in business and a new multiplex (by now to feature 15 screens) would be built. However, its location would be moved substantially to the southwest...placing it out of the trajectory of descending aircraft.

EASTRIDGE CENTER, which had been remodeled in 1982, 1988 and 1995, was in need of some sprucing up by the turn of the century. Moreover, the enormous, vacant Liberty House / Emporium needed to be redeveloped. Chicago-based General Growth Properties, who had acquired a majority interest in EASTRIDGE in October 1999, instituted a 100 million dollar mall makeover in January 2003.

The Liberty House / Emporium and adjacent Ice Arena were razed and replaced with an open-air "Streetscape" section of stores, which included Barnes & Noble and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Barnes & Noble opened its doors March 15, 2005.

By this time, inline mall stores had all relocated into the Penney's Wing. The interior of the shopping center was gutted and rebuilt in stages. New stores, such as Hollister, Victoria's Secret, Vans and Old Navy, were added to the directory.

The old Grand Court was reconfigured into a new Central Plaza. Its two sub-level store sections had been taken out, with the entire mall reoriented with just 2 floors. The Food Court, on the Upper Level, was also expanded into a 9-bay operation.

Lastly, a cinema multiplex, on the drawing boards for nearly 20 years, came to fruition as the American Multi-Cinema Eastridge 15, which opened November 23, 2005. The rejuvenated EASTRIDGE MALL now encompassed 1,310,000 leasable square feet, with a retail roster of one hundred and forty stores and services.

A less involved renovation got underway following the shuttering of Bed, Bath & Beyond, in January 2014. Its 2-level area, and space previously occupied by four inline tenants, was refashioned into a (40,000 square foot) 24 Hour Fitness and (50,000 square foot) Round One Bowling & Amusement Center. These were dedicated in March and September 2015.

General Growth Properties sold the shopping hub in January 2016. The buyer was a joint venture of El Segundo, California's Pacific Retail Capital Partners and New York City's Silverpeak Real Estate Partners. They soon reinstituted the original moniker, EASTRIDGE CENTER.

Sources:

Scott P. / "BigMallRat"
http://www.greatamericaparks.com / Steven Wilson
www.eastridgecenter.com
www.ggp.com
www.bizjournals.com
Santa Clara County tax assessor website
Malls of America Blogspot / Keith Milford webmaster