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Roseville Square turns 50 this month

Former managers remember Roseville’s oldest shopping center
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Long before the Westfield Galleria at Roseville and The Fountains at Roseville shopping centers were ever conceptualized, there was Roseville Square. Roseville’s oldest shopping center turned 50 years old this month and at one point, Roseville Square was the most sought after shopping destination in the region, according to former manager Carl Funk. “Back then, Roseville was a town of 13,000 people with three cops,” said Funk, who managed the original Woolworth’s store when the square launched in 1962. “When Roseville Square opened, it was the biggest shopping center in Placer County.” Roseville Square had its grand opening on March 1, 1962, and played host to a mélange of restaurants, department stores, boutiques, jewelry stores, gifts and even a large food court. “Gourmet Plaza,” as it was called, was the main anchor of the square and the hub where people from all walks of life, traveling from around the region, would gather to take a break from their shopping excursion, Funk said. Funk describes Roseville Square in its heyday as a vibrant community shopping center with a “Disneyland look” and a giant four-edged sign topped with oversized spheres that constantly rotated out front. “It was the place where everyone came to hang out,” he said. “The look of Roseville Square is totally different now.” Funk said that in the fall 1962, the center was visited by California gubernatorial hopeful Richard Nixon, who gave a compelling speech there. Other celebrity visitors to the square included Burt Ward, who was the original “Robin” from the Batman and Robin television series in the 1970s, and Smiley Burnett of Petticoat Junction and sidekick to Gene Autry, Funk said. “When this mall was first opened, everybody shopped here,” said Norm Budreau. “This was before there were enclosed malls, so nobody knew you didn’t have to shop in the rain.” Budreau is the former manager of Gallenkamp’s Shoe Store, one of the original stores in the shopping center, and had previously managed a shoe store in Santa Rosa before he was recruited to come to Roseville Square. “Nobody knew where Roseville was or had ever heard of it before,” he said. “Everything was rural.” Budreau said the opening of Roseville Square played a significant role in diverting the shopping pubic from small businesses in downtown Roseville. “When Roseville Square opened, it kind of killed the shopping in downtown Roseville,” Funk said. “Just like when Sunrise Mall came in, it affected Roseville Square quite a bit.” Stuart Snider, a current leasing agent for Roseville Square, agreed that the center did suffer a bit when the shopping demographic shifted around the region, most recently toward Highway 65. “(Roseville Square) used to be the center of town,” Snider said. “With Highway 65 and the mall, there seemed to be more of a shift in that direction.” Snider said since the loss of Ross Dress for Less, which burned in July 2006 after a welder sparked a fire near the rear of the store, the center has seen a greater mix in the types of tenants. “There used to be a lot of other apparel and shoe tenants there,” he said. “Now with Ross gone, there is less of a reliance on that type of tenant.” The building which once housed Ross Dress for Less has since been rebuilt and is now occupied by Sunflower Farmers Market. Things are beginning to come full circle for the once-popular square, Snider said, as the center is making a comeback thanks to a greater variety of new tenants. Roseville Square was about 60 percent occupied when Snider became a leasing agent a little more than one year ago. Thanks to a recent revitalization and the new tenants, such as Any Mountain Sports, Incredible Pets, Subway and others, Roseville Square is now 85 percent occupied, with a few more tenant deals “in the works.” “The fact that we’re right off the freeway is a major plus,” Snider said. “We’ve got some quality tenants that have remained in the center and we build off of that.” Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.