Montclair East is a shopping center with business offices located at 2220 Mountain Blvd. It is now called Village Square.
James Fernhoff, a local real estate broker, was the initial developer.
Sidney Chown owned the 2 1/2 acre plot before the building of Montclair East.
Sidney Chown was one of Northern California’s best-known horsemen when he died in 1961. He owned and operated grocery stores in Oakland and Berkeley.
The Chown’s purchased the land in approximately 1920. They were considered some of the founding residents in Montclair.
Chown and his friends organized Piedmont Trails Club. He built up his ranch to include 12 stalls and an arena for horses.
After his death, his wife Lucille sold the property.
During an Oakland City Planning Commission public hearing where Lucille A. Chown was asking for her property at 2220 Andrews St (the site) to be rezoned as commercial.
Fernhoff stated “the project would include parking for 110 cars, rustic architecture with shake roofs and no bowling alleys, drive-ins, car washed or super markets.” He said only ‘high class” businesses would be permitted.
Opponents, including several business owners, complained it would “spilt the business district” and isn’t needed. Apartments would be better, some said.
In August 1963, the city council approved the $750,000 project after the planning commission spilt 3-3 on its recommendation.
Montclair East Fought
In October 1963, a group of twelve property owners near the site brought a suit against the City of Oakland.
They charged that a new shopping center was unnecessary, would create traffic problems, and damage residential property values.
James Fernhoff contended that the site is unsuitable for residential development because it was the site of the future interchange of the Warren and Shepherd Canyon(unbuilt) Freeways.
The groundbreaking was held in February of 1965. A gold-plated shovel was used to break the hard old ground.
Construction and Design
Construction for Montclair East, a 1.2 million dollar shopping center, began in May of 1965.
The plans called for a 28,000 square foot building with 20,000 feet on the ground floor devoted to a restaurant and 12 shops and 7,600 feet on the second floor to eight offices. The parking lot would accommodate 111 cars.
The center was designed by Robert B. Liles, an architect from San Francisco.
First Store to Open
Jim Fox opened his fourth supermarket located in Montclair East on September 21, 1966.
The new store featuring wall-to-wall carpeting was the first to open at the shopping center. The store occupied 6,000 square feet
Captain Satellite made an appearance at the formal ceremony held the following weekend.
- Death Takes Sidney V. Chown – Oakland Tribune December 3, 1961
- Zoning Row Rages in Montclair – Oakland Tribune August 29, 1963
- Row House Project – Oakland Tribune April 17, 1964
- Montclair East Approved – Oakland Tribune April 30, 1964
- 1.2 Million Center for Montclair- Oakland Tribune May 9, 1965
- Fox Opens Fourth Supermarket – Oakland Tribune September 21, 1966