From the Archives: Fashion Valley opened 50 years ago

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50 years ago today, Fashion Valley Shopping Center welcomed San Diegans for its official grand opening. The new $50 million shopping center was anchored by the Broadway, Robinsons, and Buffums department shops. mallThey were built on the former Westgate Park site in Mission Valley.

From the San Diego Union, Sunday October 12, 1969

Tomorrow’s Opening of 36 Specialty Shops To Greet The Public

Tomorrow, Fashion Valley Center will host 36 specialty shops.

If the trend established when the major stores and two shops opened Sept. 8, will continue, the shops could set new records.

“Business has been phenomenal, far better than expected” at the $50 million, 80-acre center at U.S. 395 and Friar’s Road, said Ronald Hahn, the center manager.

“In several cases, store officials say it is the best opening they have ever had,”Hahn added.


The elegant shopping center, which stands on the site of the former Westgate Park, is designed to emphasize San Diego’s Spanish heritage and pioneer spirit.

The grounds are landscaped and there are paved parking spaces for 6,000 cars.

Yet this appeared to be insufficient in the days after Robinson’s, Buffums’, The Broadway, Thayer-McNeil Shoes, and Florsheim Shoes opened their doors.


“It seemed like we had inadequate parking, but this was not actually true,”The center manager said so. Hahn explained the situation this way:

Shopping at high-end, luxurious establishments is increasing in popularity.fashioncenter

“There is so much to see when they visit here for the first time. They want to see everything, and so they are spending more time. The average turnover is perhaps 30 to 32 minutes, while shoppers are averaging two to three hours now.”

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Vaile G. Young, chairman of the board of Buffums,’ said:

Buffum’s is extremely pleased with the reception that San Diego has given us. It exceeded all our expectations.


“San Diego’s response to our merchandise indicates that we were right in providing high fashion merchandise in a setting that is outstanding.”

Grady Kelly-Post, manager of Robinson’s commented:

“We are extremely pleased with the customer acceptance and the customers are obviously pleased with what they have seen. Our sales definitely reflect this.”

William Belding is the regional manager for The Broadway and also the manager of The Fashion Valley.


“We had the biggest opening of any Broadway we’ve opened in the last 20 years. It’s way beyond my wildest dreams and it will continue.

“We’ve been afraid of traffic problems getting into the center, but police have assisted and cooperated fully.

“We are very gratified with the response, particularly in the children’s and fashion departments. It is more than worth all the effort that we put into the store to have such a warm reception by the people”


The center has more than a million square foot of shopping space and features individual-designed store exteriors. The main building materials are exposed aggregate and split-faced bricks, blocks, and a variety of red Spanish tile and quarry.

There are fountains, trees and flowers, as well as benches. The center’s theme is established by a 50-foot high tower in the mall.

The central plaza can be used for community events, art exhibitions and other activities. fashionShows

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The sprawling center is a joint project of Ernest W. Hahn, Inc., an architectural and shopping center development company, and Westgate California Realty.

F.W. F.W. Woolworth will be open next March. J.C. Penney is expected to open next fall. The Penney store will cover 235,000 square footage, making it the largest two-story structure in the middle.

Developers stressed Fashion Valley Center is located in the geographic middle of San Diego County. It is located five minutes away from the Civic Center, eight from Point Loma and Chula Vista and 13 minutes from Pacific Beach, Chula Vista and El Cajon. It is also only 25 minutes from Escondido. It is 33 minutes from Oceanside.

Merrie Monteagudo has compiled historical photos and articles from The San Diego Union Tribune archives. Browse the U-T historical archives http://nl.newsbank.com/sites/sdub/

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