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Adaptive Reuse Taken to the Extreme

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An AP report points out that the Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno, Calif., has the distinction of being built on the site of a former internment camp.

But the mall's current normalcy belies the site's troubling history. The one-time horse racetrack was used by U.S. authorities to hold 8,000 Japanese Americans before shipping them to World War II internment camps.

Saturday, in the mall's parking lot on a cold, foggy morning, hundreds gathered to remember a far different Tanforan. Former internees recalled being forced from their homes 65 years ago to the site south of San Francisco for what officials said was their own protection.

"Then why were the barbed wire fences pointing inward and the guards pointing their guns at us?" said Lou Minamoto, 75, of Oakland.

Minamoto was 10 when she was crammed into a horse stall at Tanforan with her mother, sisters and brother. They slept on hay, and what she remembers most is the smell of manure, she said. From Tanforan, the family was sent to a remote desert camp in Topaz, Utah, where they were detained even though two other brothers were fighting in the war on the U.S. side.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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