San Bruno Fox Skyline Center / Theater Pacific Heights Shopping Center Skyline Shopping Center Homepage A Neighborhood Shopping Center that once existed high upon Skyline Ridge @ Westborough Blvd. in San Bruno on Pacific Bay Vistas Apartments Site)....Revisit a place long gone...until now, only remaining in your distant memories....
Be sure to check out our comments link in Dreambook below, we've gotten some great new comments lately! For many years during the 2000s and early 2010s, the TreeTops Apartments stood fenced off, like a ghost town, withering away in the Pacifica fog. Prior to closure, the apartments received bad reviews for shoddy construction, lack of acoustic privacy and mold. During 2011-2013, the project was completely reconstructed and is now an attractive bright and sparkly place, which contains inside the leasing office, a small movie theater room. Little do most people know that over 30 years ago, there was once the Fox Skyline Shopping Center which had its own full size movie theater, at the very same siteDuring the late 1960s, early 1970s, I grew up in the Westborough neighborhood of South San Francisco. At The top of the hill was Skyline Blvd @ Westborough/Sharp Park Rd, where there once existed the "Fox Skyline Center". The official name of the center was Pacific Heights Center or Pacific Heights Shopping Center (after the surrounding district of San Bruno). I must have visited the place 10 times while it was open, as a youngster, my dad took us up to a carnival up there. I remember jumping in the red and white trampoline thing inflated by a compressor. I think the tall monument sign for the center was mechanical and the sign would spin until it broke, it was never fixed. I saw a few "Grindhouse" movies there at the movie theater, such as "The Van", "Pom Pom Girls". "The Song Remains the Same" "The Grateful Dead Movie" and "Blazing Saddles" also played during the late 1970s. The whole shopping center was pretty much a hoodlum hangout by that time.... In the early 80s, I went to see bands that played often at "Prima Pizza". Bands also would sometimes play at the Sky House Restaurant. As a teenager, I felt the shopping center had a charming sense of dilapidation. It was the most inhospitable place to put a shopping center imaginable. During the afternoon, the fog rolls in, and at this location, after sunset, it is often as thick as pea soup...high beam weather. It is often very very windy and damp. I remember going by there, the fog was so thick, you could hardly see the Thrifty in back. During the early 80s, there were some marginal tenants there, a TV Repair, A Boxing Gym, the Skyhouse Tavern/Restaurant, a Real Estate Office, I believe there was a Photomat booth (long closed of course), and a Shell Station at the corner. Musak was still playing through rusty circular speakers in 1982. The Safeway (and later Harvest House Market) was also long closed, the movie theater shut, the Thrifty was on its last limbs, they were not keeping up the place very well. Maybe during those final years, they were just waiting for remaining leases to expire. Local punks lit fire to the theater building, after it closed.. In 1983/4, they shut the center and in 1986 they tore it down. Now its Tree Tops Apartments. Fox Skyline Center....This was what could be called a "Neighborhood Center". But not a neighborhood center by today's standards. It had a single screen movie theater. As we all know, there used to be many many single screen theaters around. (Another movie theater had opened down the hill at Westborough Square, it was part of the Jerry Lewis chain, it only lasted three years.) The Safeway was the anchor store, when that closed, there was another market called "Harvest House", which failed, and for years that market space was vacant until the center was torn down. Click here for link to
Larry Goldsmith's Fox Skyline Movie Theater Memorabilia Collection and Photos! (Former Theater Manager)
During the 1950s-1960s, this was a rapidly developing area. But in the 1970s recessions, things really slowed down, and the area did not develop as quickly, as much, or as fast as some might have anticipated. The whole "Sweeney Ridge" area was originally slated for development, with the western portion of the 380 freeway ending up on Highway 1 in Pacifica. Development of Sweeney Ridge might have brought hundreds or thousands of new residents within two miles of the shopping center. But, 380 never happened, if you see the interchange with 280, its a road to nowhere....the environmentalists got it made into parkland. If you are not familiar with the area of Fox Skyline Center, there happen to be several neighborhood centers in the vicinity, along Westborough Blvd. This seemed to be the first center developed. Then another one was developed down the hill, a block away @ Callan: (Westborough Hills), which had a Lucky Market as original anchor, later Longs Drugs. Then, down the hill three blocks, you have Westborrough Square, also developed with a Safeway as an original tenant. Another Safeway was at Skycrest Center. Down Skyline Blvd, there was a really small center, that became Church of the Highlands (I remember going in there once, they had a independent grocery store called Pacific Market, no relation to the asian oriented chain around here now). ...further down Skyline Blvd, the now defunct Skycrest Center with a Safeway, now Lunardis. Going the other direction on Skyline Blvd, there was the pre-rehabilitated Fairmont Center, which was at the time an enclosed mall.... (anyone remember the "Golden Coach Restaurant"?) and the King Plaza which had a Cala. Serramonte had a QFI. Without the new development on Sweeney Ridge, The market became oversaturated so a few places closed or did not do well.
When Safeway opened at Westborough Square opened, the Safeway at the Fox Skyline Center closed. Then the Lucky down the hill closed. It became a Longs for a few years. Safeway opened a Pak n Save, a chain it took over from Brentwood Markets, which had operated for a few years at the old ALEC near Serra Bowl in Daly City. They moved to accomodate the Bart line. A while after the Pak and Save opened next door, the Westborough Safeway closed, and Safeway subleased to a pet food store. Tanforan Mall opened in the early 70s, I think contributing to the demise of Fox Skyline Shopping Center, as the new Walgreens there (at the time, near Sears, with a restaurant), the new four screen cinema, might have created competition for the Thrifty, Ben Franklin and movie theater operating up on Skyline.
couresty of www.flickr.com/photos/romleysMy research on the Center consisted of going to the San Bruno Library. There was a small summary of newspaper articles, and it seemed that this shopping center was despised by the neighbors for some time. They did not like the traffic, and they did not like the dilapidated condition of the center. It had a very odd configuration, with much parking in the back of the buildings. There is nothing left at the site to indicate that it was once a bustling (sic) community center, it was scraped clean for the apartments. A Shell gas station long stood where the Pacific Bay Vistas leasing office now stands. Former area resident Jim McMullin wrote us and adds about Fox Skyline Center: "U did not mention the hardware store That was next to the 5&10 Also Teds Shell was on the corner long before the shopping center was built. Teds tanks leaked for many years ,He found out when he wasnt getting the galions he paid for.Losing 800 -1000 gal a month.Think he finally had to sue Shell .That corner is a super fund site (i Think) and cant be built on for a very long time.Also there in a sewer line -Next to a water main that goes through there.One of them broke a few years back and caused a BIG problem.I watched the theater being bult.It was a tilt up(they pored it on the ground then lifted the pannels up) ...I moved about 6 months ago from Elston after 45 years.Antony from the area wrote: I lived on Summit Rd. over-looking the shopping center from 1963 to 1972. The fog was unrelentless! I recall kids--myself included--chewing (sic) on hunks of tar that were left over from the construction of the Fox theatre. I just hope it wasn't carcinogenic.
My favorite shop was the cleaners where the owner, Jack, had a small scale model hobby shop at the front of the store. He showcased his finely crafted tanks, and warplanes in a glass display, behind which
were stacked various kits for sale. When I was 11, I took 3rd place in the first model contest he gave--what a thrill!Personally, I spent most of my time in the early 80s in the "Prima Pizza" parlor. It was by then very dingee and falling apart. I dont remember the pizza as being that exceptional, but it wasnt that bad either. The guy that ran it was from Boston area, of Italian descent, I believe, he was quite a character. I also went into the Thrifty a few times, and the SkyHouse, once or twice. When I was very young I might have gone into the hardware store.
Here you will find a collection of photos and things that pertain to the Center, I am sure that someone in their garage has color pictures of the center, if you do, please contribute them to this site, there are a lot of former neighbors and current inhabitants who remember the center and would probably dig seeing...if you have anything to add, or want to contact the author send to: firstname.lastname@example.org Photographer Scot Boshmann took a lot pictures of some of the center before it was torn down wayy wayy back in 1986, he owns copyright on these two photos I have here below and generously granted me permission to put them here. He was able to get inside the theater and take pictures of the lobby, for instance. He did not take any pictures of the monument sign, the Skyhouse, the Shell station or the Thrifty building. I believe that he took the pictures for a newspaper piece on the demo of the center. Getting a hold of him was the culmination of a one year search to find any pictures of the center, calling the City, the current property owners, etc. ...so these are quite possibly the only pics in existence. So with all that said: Fox Skyline Center, Rest in Peace. Below: Shop spaces on S. side of property. To the left was a 30,000 s.f. +/- Grocery Store building. The shop spaces once contained the Pizza parlor, Ben Franklin 5*10, Beauty Shop, Barber Shop, Clothing Store. Beyond the movie theater in the background, to the right, was a small restaurant building and 20,000 s.f. +/- Thifty drug store space. The photomat was in between the strip of shops and the shell station, I believe.
Below: The Fox Skyline Movie Theater. Internally illuminated signs spelling : F O X S K Y L I N E were placed within the white spaces on the canopy facia above the entrance.
Updated, November 30, 2014; LINKS
Cinema Treasures Discussion about Fox Skyline TheaterScan of Ticket for Special Showing at Fox Skyline Theater San Bruno
Groceteria: A Supermarket Nostalgia Website, Discussion of This website, more info on Shopping Center original tenants. Has 1964 Tenant List
The Late Paul Azevedo from Pacifica Tribune mentions FSC in column...
Opening Dates and locations for "The Sound of Music"
Database of Old Bay Area Movie Theaters
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