The Villa Park Town Center on Santiago Boulevard is Villa Park’s sole shopping destination. The Town Center features a grocery store, banks, a pharmacy, hair and nail salons, a post office, city hall, a library, a veterinarian, doctors, dentists, accountants, a florist, many restaurants and a bar with live music. The Town Center is also a community hangout where inevitably you’ll run into a friend or family member. For many, the shopping center represents many memories from after school hangouts at Bagel Me!, fun times at the Post and the many reunions with friends.
Address Range: 17767 – 17871 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, CA
The town features a Centennial Rotary Clock located near the city hall. At the base of the clock are the names of the people who helped with the funding of the freestanding clock and also an adjacent bench with additional contributors listed. Built in 2004, the clock tower is to remind us of the days when this was a small agricultural community. The clock is situated only a few hundred yards from the site of the old Sunkist Orange Packing House when orange labels with attractive labels were packed there. The clock is also similar to an old Villa Park Orchards Association Orange label.
By the clock there is a silver fire hydrant dedicated to the all volunteer first that proudly served Villa Park. In front of City Hall there is a short wall with custom engraved bricks from the people who helped support the City’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The 11 acre Towne Centre contains 13 parcels with 11 different owners. The City can control the zoning for the area, but it has little control or input on how the many owners choose to operate their parcels. As an example, many residents did not want a Dunkin Donuts or another bank in The Town Center but The City had little authority to impede this effort.
The Ralph’s Market sign has delivered happy, sad and informative messages to the community since the 70s.
Villa Park Town Center Events
The town center has many events throughout the year including the monthly City Council meeting, advisory committee meetings, Villa Park Rotary and VPCSF functions, blood drives and other community functions. Plus these annual events:
- Adopt-a-Marine Thanksgiving
- Dry Land Boat Parade
- Cars & Coffee
- Halloween Fest
- National Night Out
- The Taste of Villa Park
- Tree Lighting Ceremony
- Villa Park City Council Meetings
- All Villa Park Area Events
Villa Park Town Center History
Originally there was no Villa Park Town Center as all of Villa Park was zoned low density residential (20,000 square foot) with the exception of the Villa Park Orchards Packing House and the public schools. In 1965 a developer, Michael’s Market, submitted an application for a variance to re-zone for commercial the now standing Town Center. This would start a two year battle that would not be resolved until late 1967 when the Villa Park City Council adopted a general plan allotting limited acreage on the northeast corner of Santiago Blvd. and Wanda Road to commercial development. This was also the same time that acreage on the western periphery was permitted to be developed with three homes to the acre.
The Santiago Shopping center, as it was called then, was a hotly contested topic for the community. Many residents opposed the shopping center – most of whom lived in a tract to the southeast of the shopping center. They regarded the center as, at best, a necessary evil that would ruin the rural feel of Villa Park. These same residents pushed Union Oil to put a “Welcome to Villa Park” sign on a brick wall of the corner service station (where Dunkin Donuts is located now). The same residents also kept after Union Oil, the Market Basket and other stores to display salesmanship restraint, befitting the rural-like atmosphere. The other side saw the benefits and convenience of a shopping center and also the sales tax revenue.
In 1969 the Villa Park shopping center was built and included The Market Basket grocery store and Union Oil among the first commercial units. The center struggled at first due to residents that boycotted the center which resulted in The Market Basket failing and ultimately being replaced by Ralph’s.
In 1972 the decision was made to tear down a 1904 built community hall on Villa Park Road where city hall was located. The VP City Council also voted to build a combined city hall and library in the town center and in 1972 ground broke on the building.
Some of the other early stores that went in were Phil’s Union 76, Ralph’s, The Villa Park Pharmacy, DeAngelo’s Char Burger, Wayne’s Liquor and a hardware store. First Class Pizza, the first location, was established in 1978. In 1987 Marty Colleary opened up Rockwell’s Cafe and Bakery.
In 1993 DeAngelo’s shuttered its doors after 25 years and Bert Blyleven (former VP resident & MLB HoFer) and Marty Colleary partnered to open Blyleven’s Dugout Diner. That lasted for several years until a coffee shop went in and ultimately it became what it is today, Bagel Me! Other things changed too such as Phil’s became Frank’s Union 76 which was one of the last full serve gas stations around. Unfortunately, Frank’s was ultimately forced out to make way for a Dunkin’ Donuts and yet another bank, to the dismay of many residents.
Previous Establishments at the Villa Park Center
- Barber shop (Subway location)
- Blyleven’s Dugout (BagelMe! location)
- Chicken Coop (BagelMe! location)
- Cigar store (Allure location)
- DeAngelo’s Char Burger (BagelMe! location)
- Phil’s Union 76/Frank’s Union 76 (Dunkin’ Donuts/Chase Bank location)
- First National Bank of Orange County (acquired by Wells Fargo)
- Global Travel Agency
- Hardi Gardens
- Hardware store (Allure location)
- Heidi’s Frozen Yogurt (17853 Santiago unit)
- Market Basket (Ralph’s location)
- Needlepoint store (Coffee Grove)
- Photo development store (Allure location)
- Phil’s Union 76/Frank’s Union 76 (Dunkin’ Donuts/Chase location)
- Tailor/Alteration (Jewelry Designs location)
- Villa Park Real Estate
- Wachovia Bank (Union Bank location)
Not a complete list.
Town Center History Bits and Pieces
- Ralph’s used to have turnstiles in order to enter the grocery store.
- There was a walkway from VPHS to the Town Center near the middle of the track field that got closed off.
- The mail box was moved from in front of Wells Fargo to the gate by the back of City Hall.
- The pharmacy didn’t originally have a soda fountain but it did have a section for movie rentals.
- For many growing up, Wayne’s Liquor wasn’t and isn’t the place try out a fake id.
- There was a full service gas station, where the attendant would pump gas, wash the windows and check the oil.