Future of Vallco back on the City’s table, with new alternatives focused on housing

Entrace of Vallco Shopping Mall in Cupertino

A new, but long-anticipated chapter about the future of the dying Vallco Shopping Mall might be underway. According to a press release from Sand Hill Property Company, developer and owner of Vallco Shopping Mall, the company has submitted an official request to the City of Cupertino to restart the planning process for Vallco. Sand Hill is asking the City to study project alternatives for the site that would reduce the office space from its earlier The Hills at Vallco plan and increase housing, with a significant amount of affordable units.

This announcement comes after the conclusion of the City’s Speaker Series, about sustainable growth for Cupertino, which wrapped up earlier this week with an expert panel on transportation. Sand Hill cited analysis from the speaker series panels as inspiration for its re-engagement on Vallco. In a panel on housing, experts communicated that the region is in a housing crisis and that Cupertino is not meeting its obligation to provide affordable housing. Transportation panel experts highlighted opportunities for Cupertino to reduce traffic congestion by creating more housing and public transit close to work centers.

One year after the ballot

Nearly one year ago Cupertino citizens rejected two ballot measures about the future of Vallco Shopping Mall. Measure D supported Sand Hill Property’s office-centric plan, called The Hills at Vallco, while the competing Measure C sought to secure Vallco as a retail only site. Since then, Vallco Shopping Mall has continued to deteriorate and both the City and the developer stayed quiet about possible next steps.

That silence ended yesterday, as Sand Hill Property submitted a letter to the City with an official request to restart the process. “We have learned from last year’s ballot measures and from our interactions with the community that Cupertino residents agree on two important things. First, that we need to do something about Vallco and, second, that the future of Vallco should be determined not at the ballot-box but through a regular community planning process undertaken by the City,” said Reed Moulds, managing director at Sand Hill.

In the letter to the City, published in its entirety on the company’s website, Sand Hill said that it “will hold off on submitting any new project and ask that the City suspend further review of the Hills at Vallco design. Instead, we seek to collaborate with the City to develop a Specific Plan, that provides more options than we have today.” Sand Hill has requested the City study options which include two alternatives that contain significantly more housing.

Mayor wants community engagement

In a City press release Mayor Savita Vaidhyanathan says to look forward to the redevelopment, adding that a new Vallco “could be a signature project for our city and it should be something our residents want to contribute their thoughts to and be proud of in the end. I want community engagement right from the get-go in a positive and productive manner that results in a creative solution that will benefit our whole community.” The City already confirmed that throughout the planning process it will hold public meetings and gather feedback from the community.