The Block

Catellus and the Pacific Commons folks deserve credit for hosting the best ground-breaking ever. Lots of food and almost no self-congratulatory yammering.

Here’s a video of Fremont’s future new Century Theaters movie theater and adjoining development. The theater should open next spring.

Matt Artz


  1. Wow, that is really great looking. Looks like a great place to see a movie and hang out (and feels way more upscale than the rest of Pacific Commons).

    Is there any hope we could get Apple to open a store there?

  2. It looks like a Downtown for Fremont, forget the Central Business District or Midtown or whatever that politically designed downtown is now called. It will now, surely fail or become a mere shadow that was envisioned by the residents of Fremont.
    The Mayor and the Fremont City Council should be proud. Maybe we can snag a Goodwill store for Midtown.
    The Mayor and City Council do know how to build a Skate Park, they know what is important!!!

  3. California dreaming………on steroids. Bay Area weather will be the biggest determining factor for this project. It’s windy and cold down there on a good day. Why wasn’t a project like this (on a smaller scale) proposed for the Centerville area—with a renovated Center Theater for civic, school or drama productions as an anchor with local dining and the train station for local participation?

    That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. We all know the answer.

  4. That video reminds me of Grand Theft Auto. I was expecting the Camaro to take out some pedestrians on the sidewalk jus’ because it can.

  5. And where are the bicycle lanes??? If anyone from Catellus states it’s a “pedestrian-friendly design” be sure to snort loudly and roll your eyes.

  6. Nice video … would be awesome if this was taking place next to a BART station. The traffic flow in video is unrealistic. I imagine alot of traffic going to the theatres. And I agree with the earlier comment of the winds down there.

  7. Hope some upscale retailers move in…looks like it could be a similar shopping experience as Santana Row. We don’t need another Great Mall environment. Jackets are always required in the Bay Area..so I don’t know why folks are worried about the climate at Pacific Commons. Agree w/West, if this area takes off, no one will go to the new mid-town area.

  8. #10 GoFremont…Unfortunatley the Fremont Citizens Network has scared away ALL upscale retailers. Mowry East has just moved south! I’m afraid they will be knocking down this cookie cutter mall in less than 20 years. Could have had a state of the art ballpark and a professional sports franchise…thanks to the FCN we don’t!

  9. As usual Charlie, you either don’t know what you’re talking about or just like to make things up to suit your viewpoint.

    The FCN didn’t do much if anything until the long running stadium plan switched from behind PacCom to the first Warm Springs location (between 680 & WSB). It was the vendors at PacCom who did in the stadium at the originally proposed location. The “cookie cutter mall” that exists now and continues with “The Block” had nothing to do with FCN’s stadium opposition that formed *after* the vendor opposition shut down those plans at the PacCom site. Even if other factors (NUMMI opposition, the housing crash, FCN opposition) hadn’t blocked the stadium in Warm Springs, the PacCom mall could have developed exactly as it has.

    And I doubt that you provide any evidence of a single “upscale retailer” (let alone “all”) that FCN has scared away from anywhere.

  10. Way too many people in the video. Too many people “hanging out”

    They’d either be inside shopping or driving home… just like now.

    Also suggesting all these upscale stores have already signed on to an as-yet-to-be-built shopping center is just more incitement, not reality.

    Target and the movie theater, yes, but all the other storefronts we see in the video, the names above the doors, that’s wishful thinking.

  11. Choose a crayon out of the Fremont Planning Coloring Box of your choosing. But, as Charlie suggests, choose the color which is reflective of the style of doing business our leaders have fostered and created over the course of the last 10 or 15 years.

    Think “The Globe” or “The Hub”. (I’ll bet those folks would have shown you a really nice video too. PRobably, not much different than this one)

    Now – remove the facades from these current business locations and glue them up at this latest opportunity.

    Re-watch the video and think nail salons, Gyro and tapioca bars, dollar stores, maybe a buffet or 10. Don’t forget to add some serious bumping and rattling to the soundtrack when the Corolla cruises by.

    Now whatdya got ?

    Charlie is right.

    You can spin up to the obvious Sanatana-row-esque vision that these planners would like you to envisage. More likely the Fremont version will be very very different and will be the result of the same kind of thoughtless and random “planning” which has achieved a result we are witness to in almost all of our historic districts. You know, the same kind of “planning” that came up with the idea of dropping an MLB stadium in the midst of big-box retailers (and their parking).

    FCN responsible ?
    Not likely.

    Only those who choose to remain totally ignorant of the kinds of developments our civic planners and leaders have cultivated for many, many years could agree with such a lucicrous claim.

    THe planning and development malaise that continues to fester within our city limits was well rooted long, long, LONG before Charlie or our Council members ever had to take the afternoon off to decipher what that TLA of FCN was an abbreviation for.

  12. Jesus crist people why all the hate. Everybody was bitching a few years ago how were losing shops movie theaters in the city limits for neighboring cities, now were getting this amazing complex build and your still complaining. Everybody has been castrated by there own bay area smug. If you don’t like they city you live in that’s making progress LEAVE!!!!!!!! Otherwise sit back and enjoy the view.

  13. An “amazing complex” ?

    What ?

    Where ????

    More dollar stores, tapioca bars, and nail salons – are “amazing ” ???

    Progress ??

    The re-relocating of *existing* services and product – is “progress” ??

    Moving in a direction which is clearly away from and competitive with the unique character, opportunity, and established small businesses which are the historic districts – – – is “progress” ????

  14. OK, Now what is going to happen to Mid town or a Faux Downton.
    It is sort of sad that we all are paying for a lack of leadership, a lack of Vision, a lack of Wisdom.
    These are the people YOU elected!

  15. BBox, what evidence do you have that this new complex will be filled with “dollar stores, tapioca bars, and nail salons?” Honestly, the crap that spews through your keyboard amazes me. You people have been bitching for years that there’s no movie theater in Fremont, and now, like Victor says, an amazing complex has begun and still y’all bitch and bitch and bitch. Me thinks you need a life!

    There is absolutely no evidence that there will be dollar stores or nail salons, and in fact, the Block is not even zoned for such. Instead, since Day 1, PacCommons has lured retailers OUT of Newark (Old Navy, Staples, and now Target and Toys R Us). And it’s a pretty safe bet that had PacCommons retail not been build, Kohls would undoubtedly have taken over one of the two Mervyn’s spaces in Newark. And the only reason PacCommons was able to lure the theater out of NewPark Mall was that the mall owner was in bankruptcy and put the theater on the back burner. And along with the theater will be a number of new restaurants, somthing else Fremononians have been bitching they need more of.

    As Victor said, this new component of PacCommons IS amazing. It is similar to, but larger than, the theater promenade at Hacienda Crossings in Dublin (which is hugely successful and popular)!!! The only difference, other than size, it The Block will have more of an urban feel.

    And The Block is completely different than the Midtown project, which will be more of a TOD (transit-oriented development) featuring not only retail, but office, civic, and residential development and parks/gethering spaces.

  16. Victor – what is “progress”, exactly? Before you counsel those of us who’ve been here since before this place was called Fremont to leave, perhaps you should consider some of the God-awful decisions that have been made here –

    Remember the old City Hall? and why don’t we have a new City Hall?
    How many city centers have we had on the books so far?
    How many old and/or serviceable buildings have been knocked down, only to leave vacant lots for years?
    How much City property has been essentially given away to developers?

    Weren’t these decisions made in the name of “progress” by our feckless leaders? If we’d left town every time the Council and the Planning Commission made a lousy, dumb decision that serves their donors rather than City residents, the only people left in Fremont would have been here about ten minutes.

  17. Who exactly has been “bitching” for years for theaters and restaurants? And who calls us “Fremononians”? Me thinks it’s someone who doesn’t live here – who else would refer to residents as “you people”?

    B’s got good sense and it’s experience living here that tells anyone who’s been paying attention how this latest developmental adventure will turn out over time – the same way other developments have turned out. Success in any form is thin on the ground for our city administrators, yet it’s hard to blame them. They owe so much to those who finance their campaigns, and apparently feel so little obligation to those who live with the consequences of their decisions.

    FYI, Fremont is not Dublin, it’s generally city employees who view Newark as the enemy, and it’s usually developers who see city residents as opponents.

  18. If you look at the archives of this blog, as well as TalkFremont, among others, you will find that they are replete with examples of citizens saying they want decent restaurants and a theater…. and in fact “bitching” that Fremont doesn’t have a decent one.

    And people ARE bitching about how “this development (The Block) will turn out without any evidence whatsoever that it will tank. In fact, PacCommons is wildly successful, evidenced not only by feature articles in the BizJournals, but also by the fact that the existing development is 98% leased (after suffering slight setbacks by the bankruptcy and liquidation of two of its original anchor retailers… Circuit City and Linens N Things). And while I am disappointed by what the Hub has become, it still has held its own over the years.

    As for the campaign finance issue, I would like you to provide some backup evidence that would suggest quid pro quo transactions by Fremont politicians. After all, it’s the Fremont City Council… not the House of Representatives, for God sake.

    You get no argument from me on the sad way Fremont has developed. It is downright disappointing, especially given that the Santa Clara Valley has been so successful. But finally some things ARE being done right and the current politicians ARE trying to backpeddle from decisions and actions of the past and give Fremont some character. Hopefully they will be successful.

  19. PS… you’re right… Fremont is NOT Dublin. 20 years ago, Dublin was considered the Union City of Pleasanton. Now look at it! If Fremont’s city leaders are trying to move things in that direction, and make the name Fremont into something other than the F-word of the East Bay, more power to them.

  20. The Midtown Project will be just another strip mall with residential.
    The Block has siphoned off the cream of the retailers. I have very low expectations for
    Midtown, The Nail Salons and Dollar Stores will infill just more of the same with Apartments.
    Midtown has established a lot of excellent ethnic restaurants. I sure they will be all gone as the older strip malls are demolished to make room for more Apartments/Condo’s or what ever the developers want.
    The problem is we are a big city with small time politicians with no vision, leadership or courage to make changes.
    There is a large faction of Fremont residents that want to keep Fremont a boring bedroom community.

  21. There is a large faction of Fremont residents that want to keep Fremont a boring bedroom community.

    Charlie, you want to take this one?

  22. Fremont-

    You have come along ways since the bedroom community days.. To bad everyone has to drive out of there way to get there instead of being downtown. Guess it’s better than nothing.

  23. #25….If we’re in the business of giving away our prime real estate, why give it to baseball.”
    -Kathy (Choo Choo) McDonald, former FCN President

    Calguy is right for wanting to see more development less than a stones throw form the Milpitas borderline. It’s too bad for us that UPSCALE DEVELOPMENT has become a lost cause in the near term. There are many reasons for this. The Fremont demographic points to Sweet Tomatoes as the template for success. I hope in a decade our newfound huddled masses will assimilate Fremont to a better place. Currently Fremont has a well deserved reputation for opposing reasonable development. There IS a faction of Fremont residents that want to keep Fremont a boring bedroom community. They call themselves the Fremont Citizens Network!

  24. The two stooges would bi### if you hung them with a new rope. You can’t win with these two no matter what happens Charlie is going to Blame F.C.N. and Marty is going to cry because he does not like anything. HEY YOU TWO PUT DOWN THE BONG AND LET THE SMOKE CLEAR THIS IS GOOD FOR FREMONT.Maybe there mad because they have to travel to the other end of Fremont. What is not good about this?

  25. Worble, Box is the primary nay sayer here, not me.

    I have no thoughts on the place other than it better have a place to buy $7 cupcakes.

  26. James #21 –
    Good points.

    Let’s take a more tactful approach and completely forgo any preconceived notions. So, everyone please forget about nail salons, and dollar stores, and tapioca bars – oh and forget about Santana Row . . . . . Let’s start by simply asking questions.

    1.) What new product(s), quality of product, or service do you see being delivered in this proposed venue which are not already available elsewhere in Fremont ?

    2.) Won’t some existing Fremont businesses (most of which exist in and around the historic business districts) be negatively impacted by these new sources ?

    3.) Does the introduction of this development serve to help or hinder the realization of distributed and district-centric retail/business opportunities ?

    4.) If the technology to do so had existed, do you suppose that a promotional video for “The Hub” would have been materially different than the one Catellus has put forth for this more recent plan ??? What does the current “Hub” reality look like ?

    5.) Can you think of other examples of interesting concepts which have been graphically described where the result has been materially different from the eventual reality ???

    How about Centerville ?

    Certainly, the taxpayers of Fremont have paid for several artists’ renderings of what this district was proposed to look like over the years, but, do the current results have any remote relevancy to those notions ??

    6.) Finally, is it unreasonable to presume that the future will closely emulate our past when so little has changed in the way we plan and collaborate with developers ?

  27. Ballpark is so important for some people. If there is no ballpark built, everything else sucks.

    High end retailers, no ballpark, sucks.
    Santana Row like shopping center, no ballpark, sucks.
    Good restaurants, no ballpark, sucks.
    Movie theaters, no ballpark, sucks.

    This is just how it is. No way you can reason them out.

  28. Box, you make some good points about how visions change and aesthetics are sacrificed. But the answers to your first two questions make the gamble worth it.

    What new products…do you see being delivered?

    iPods and cupcakes.

    Won’t some existing Fremont businesses be negatively impacted by these new sources?

    No, because the demand for iPods is infinite.

  29. BBox…

    1) What new products will be offered in Fremont? Most importantly, a state-of-the-art theater, which will keep tax dollars from going outside Fremont both in terms of ticket and restaurant sales. I would expect that the restaurant mix will complement the theater.

    2) Will existing Fremont business be impacted by this project? I don’t see existing businesses being negatively impacted in a major way. Rather, I see the the tenant mix at The Block complementing itself (the Catellus rep called this cross-selling in his presentation to the city). In other words, the theater draws people in and of itself, but the restaurants invite people to stay and have an extended experience while the stores offer the convenience to purchase items before or after dining or watching a movie. As to your question, though, I don’t see any of the new tenant mix, that we know about, or the types of proposed tenants, taking anything away from what exists if Fremont (Newark, yes, but not Fremont). Target at NewPark, I expect, will close, as will Cinedome and Toys R Us. But that’s Newark. Petco may relocate, but that’s a wash.

    3) Not sure what you’re asking???

    4) Would the Hub look different in a similar video had the technology existed? Who knows, but I remember last year, while working on my geneological project, coming across artist renerings of the Hub, before it was built (published inthe LA Times back in 1962). It actually looked very close to my recollection of what the Hub looked like back in the late 60s and 70s, before it’s first major facelift in response to NewPark opening. Of course, the Hub is completely different today, but I will tell you that it was hugely popular before NewPark opened. Still, Fremont citizens complained that it was wholely inadequate for Fremont’s needs, which it was, and Fremont was slow to respond to demands that we have something bigger, better, and more conducive to a city of 100,000. In fact, it wasn’t until Newark was close to a deal with Homart, the developer of NewPark, that Fremont started taking the threat seriously and backpeddled in an attempt to get an enclosed mall in Fremont. The Hub was trying to figure out how to expand (land was available across Walnut Avenue where a strip mall exists today. Any proposal at that point was simply too little, too late… Homart and Newark simply were too far along and Fremont had simply dropped the ball. Getting back to what I think you’re getting at, I would ask that you imagine what a promotional video of Hacienda Crossing in Dublin would have looked like, and then ask yourself if it looks like that today.

    5) That’s hard to say! The video of The Block shows people and traffic, but it goes without saying that both foot and vehicular traffic will not match what will exist.

  30. It’s called “Shopertainment” and no one place in Fremont has it.

    Union City has it at the landing and it’s very successful.

    Orange County actually has a “Shopertainment” area called “The Block” and it’s very successful.

    Fremont is so fragmented as it is. Mid-town won’t happen for a while because of NIMBY red-tape and currently used stall-tactics.

    Bare, undeveloped land where there are already similar offerings = build it now!

  31. Thanks for the thoughtful responses, James. These are interesting points you make and I hope all will take the time to closely read the original questions and your responses.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but, I believe you have largely reinforced the essence of my original point.

    Consider –

    Of the many, many retail properties which will comprise “The Block” you state only 1 which will be unique in it’s delivery of product or services.

    The conclusion then is that the majority of these retail outlets will provide product or services of a quality which is similar or identical to that which is already available elsewhere in our community.

    And, wasn’t that my original point ?

    Perhaps “The Block” isn’t hosting a nail salon or a tapioca bar . . . but even by *your* assessment, there’s little besides a lone theatre which as compared to other current Fremont offerings.

    And, which makes *this* venue less like a “Santana Row” (in terms of product and service offerings) and much more like “The Hub” – dont you think ?

    P.S. – we should get you and Gus together sometime. The two of you share a great deal in common vis a vis the historical perspective of our community. Would be an interesting cup (or two) of joe.

  32. “Perhaps “The Block” isn’t hosting a nail salon or a tapioca bar . . . but even by *your* assessment, there’s little besides a lone theatre which as compared to other current Fremont offerings. ”

    should read –

    “Perhaps “The Block” isn’t hosting a nail salon or a tapioca bar . . . but even by *your* assessment, there’s little besides a lone theatre which is unique when compared to other current Fremont offerings. “

  33. #31…Now you know why they call it dope!

    #34…Yes,the ballpark was important for all reasonable people who wanted a better place to live. If a ballpark gets built, everything gets betters.

    MORE high end retailers would have come to Fremont if there was a ballpark.
    MORE of a chance Fremont get a Santana Row like shopping center if there was a ballpark.
    MORE good restaurants come here if there was a ballpark.
    Fremont could also have built new movie theaters in a better location than North Milpitas.
    The FCNs flash mob protest did win the day… and that’s the way it is.

  34. Well Charlie, I have to say I’m impressed. I had always assumed that you loved the idea of a stadium because you were a baseball fan and had a vague idea that a stadium would hopefully lead to some associated development. But I had no idea that you lived in a *complete* fantasy world. Just to set you straight, nothing you said has any basis in fact. High end retailers have no interest in a stadiums and would react the same way the PacCom retailer did, avoiding having their stores anywhere near the traffic & congestion that stadiums bring. The real Santa Row exists where it does without a stadium (and again, see PacCom retailers’ demonstrated reaction to a stadium). Good restaurants don’t spring up around stadium since sports franchises go to great lengths to monopolize food services (from hot dogs to high end offerings), often negotiating exclusive zoning deals with the city for areas around the stadium. And they certainly have and want a food monopoly (even “high end”) *inside* the stadium so that fans come and spend all of their dollars inside the park. Except for older high-density areas with long-standing sports traditions, areas around new stadiums tend to become wastelands of parking lots and warehouses as businesses and home owners shun the area.

    A couple of books that actually *researched* these issues and document the impact of stadiums on a community: Field of Schemes; Public Dollars, Private Stadiums. If you have any research (i.e. studies, not rah-rahs and wild speculations from team owners, fans and politicians) to the contrary I’d be interested in pointers to read those.

    And just to set the record straight because of your continuous misuse of the term, “reasonable people” != “want a stadium.” While the stadium was still in play at each of the proposed locations, I spoke to “reasonable people” on both sides of the debate who stated some “reasonable” pro & con arguments. I came down on the side of the “reasonable people who wanted a better place to live” who *didn’t* want the traffic, crime and city expense that a stadium would have brought.

  35. Rescue, can you provide an example of a baseball team that has an “exclusive zoning deal with the city for areas around the stadium” where they can influence what restaurants are offered outside the stadium? I think this is a ridiculous statement.

    I’m not as convinced as Charlie that a stadium automatically means better dining and retail around the park. But when talking about modern stadiums, I think it’s very likely.

  36. Charlie and Marty can cry all they want and in the end guess what still NO BALLPARK IN FREMONT HA HA HA!!

  37. Number tells, history tells.

    Around 2 years ago, when A’s was talking to build the ballpark over Pacific Commons. Lowes and Costco against it. I read a lot of pro-stadium comments on this blog laughing about Pacific Commons was a pathetic place. No one comes there to shop, empty parking lot, and stores were closing. Ballpark is the only solution and savior to the Fremont economic. Despite the whole nation was in a huge downturn at that time.

    Now, look at how Pacific Commons goes. We got 2 famous franchise burger, Market Broiler, ToysRus, Nordstrom Rack, and more are coming. It is funny to look back and read those old comments.

  38. Charlie,

    I am here waiting you provides how many stadium/ballpark has surrounding high end retailers, Santana Row like shopping center, good restaurants, and movie theaters.

    By the way, after you’ve done with the research, don’t forger to write a paper about it. I will submit your paper to Economy Issue. Hope you will win a Nobel Prize on it.

  39. I don’t really understand why people are equating Pac Commons with Santana Row. Pac Commons is a far cry from Santana Row (no high end designer shops, no fancy restaurants/cafes). It’s not even a Valley Fair. It’s more like Great Mall North. But that’s ok with me given we’re talking Fremont and given nicer alternatives to the Hub and NewPark.

    I’m just hoping the city doesn’t do another survey on Pac Commons to see if people like parking backwards. I’m still thinking if I like the idea of an adjacent sports field and its impact on traffic.

  40. We got 2 famous franchise burger, Market Broiler, ToysRus, Nordstrom Rack, and more are coming

    I don’t consider myself overly sophisticated, but I’d be ashamed to treat my out of town guests to a burger and a discounted pair of pleated khakis. But if you’re proud of that, cheers to you.

    For residents, Pac Commons is a place most loath driving to, and once you’re there you cant wait to get the hell out. I’m not so sure “The Block” is going to solve this hurdle for most, even if fully occupied with the first two years, which I think is a stretch.

    If the theater is enough to draw people into a one of these manufactured cultural/commerce centers, with “cross selling” and all the other things James #36 writes about, then problem solved.

    But I still think the most effective way to achieve this was to leave Pac Commons a bog box center and develop a real downtown in a more central location, perhaps with a ballpark (that to Worble’s glee has been replaced with a rail yard).

  41. Somehow I find it really hard to understand the logic of the pro-stadium people. In their mind, ballpark is a MUST in the plan, no matter what kind of scale they are talking about. No ballpark, everything else just simply sucks.

    Bay Area has many nice cities with very nice downtown. You can have a downtown like Oakland, three professional franchises, to put it on the map. Or, you can have Palo Alto downtown, nice and beautiful, with one famous university and famous campus like Facebook, to put it on the map. Or Mountain View has Google, San Jose has Cisco, Cupertino has Apple. Even Los Gatos did a better job than Fremont. There are tons of ways to build a nice downtown. Yet, they only prefer one way, build a ballpark, and everything will be just perfect, no matter what scale that the city can suffer.

    You can laugh at Pacific Commons now, like 2 years ago those pro-stadium people did. Make sure you left enough comments so we can remember what you wrote two years later.

  42. The Block looks like it has potential. I just hope everything turns out as planned. As a 20-something person, I just wish there were a little more nightlife in Fremont! I don’t really feel like grabbing a drink at the Claim Jumpers bar is that swanky/trendy. Also I agree that Pac Commons should not be equated with Santana Row.

  43. Bay Area has many nice cities with very nice downtown….

    But Fremont has next to nothing. That’s the issue. I certainly did not think a ballpark was a must, but I thought would be a catalyst.

    Maybe a theater will be a sufficient engine, but for those of us who’d appreciate a few more interesting things to do in Fremont (beyond browsing Ashley Furniture on a Friday), all we have the past to predict the future. That past is pretty much everything Box predicts – tapioca and nail salons.

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