Alameda Towne Centre recently got a new owner. It’s now time to get an old name.
Set alongside Alameda’s south shore beach is Alameda’s outdoor shopping mall. Known as South Shore Center to generations of Alamedans and business patrons from around the area, the mall was renamed Towne Centre in 2002 to coincide with a $90 million redevelopment effort. While the upgrades have been welcomed, the new name met with strong opposition that continues to this day. Most locals either continue calling the mall South Shore and/or make fun of the “Tow-nay Cen-tray” name.
The apparent rationale for the name change was to enhance the outdated image associated with the shopping complex. But the improvements and phased opening of such popular establishments as Trader Joe’s was all that was necessary to enhance that image. The new businesses filled the parking lots, not the new name.
The name Towne Centre, or Town Center if you prefer a less pretentious spelling, might be good for places without an existing downtown or sense of community identity. Alameda, however, does not fit that description. Not only does Alameda already have an historic and civic town center, the outdoor mall now bearing the “town center” name is on the EDGE of Alameda at the waterfront.
Equally bemusing is that the mailing address for every business located in the mall, including the management office, is South Shore Center Way. Businesses located there and on the periphery continue to have “South Shore” in their names, e.g., the bank branches, café, car wash, the bowling alley, etc.
For close to a decade the public outcry against using the name Towne Centre has fallen on deaf ears. Letters to the editor, online comments, and private pleas were shrugged off. But maybe now the new owner will be amenable to bringing back the South Shore moniker. They claim they will capitalize on the location along the shoreline. What better way to begin marketing their waterfront shopping mall than to reflect geographic reality in its name?
Whether it be South Shore Plaza, South Shore Place, South Shore Commons, or something else, South Shore by any other name is still on Alameda’s south shore.
Letters on the subject or other suggestions can be sent to the new owners in Atlanta: <email@example.com> or Jamestown, c/o Asset Manager Ben Gainey, One Overton Park, Twelfth Floor, 3625 Cumberland Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30336.
Originally published in the Alameda Sun