Property owner now has two choices for how to revitalize the mostly vacant shopping mall site
Cupertino, Calif. (September 23, 2018) – Sand Hill Property Company, the owner of Vallco Mall in Cupertino, was granted project approvals by the City of Cupertino on Friday, September 21st, for its Senate Bill 35 project application, Vallco Town Center, to be located at the 50.82-acre site of the former Vallco shopping mall.
This marks the final approval for the project application, which would bring 1.81 million square feet of office space, 400,000 square feet of retail and 2,402 additional housing units to Cupertino. Half of those units, or 1,201, would be designated as affordable for low- and very low-income residents at a fraction of market rates.
The project also includes a signature 30-acre rooftop park, two town center plazas, and a vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment district.
Sand Hill submitted the SB 35 application to the City in March and was the first property owner to receive approvals under the landmark SB 35 legislation, signed into law a year ago by Gov. Jerry Brown. The law allows for a streamlined, ministerial approval process for projects that meet certain design criteria, notably providing for 50 percent of the housing as affordable.
The City of Cupertino’s approval came two days after its City Council voted to approve a separate plan that would also revitalize the Vallco site. The SB 35 application ran parallel to the City’s Specific Plan process for Vallco, which saw a vast amount of community input and debate during most of this year. Even though Sand Hill Property Company’s participation in the Specific Plan process was limited, the company was supportive.
The Specific Plan grants the framework for the property owner to bring forward a project with commercial, office and ground-floor open space to the shuttered mall site along with more than 2,000 housing units, 20 percent of which will be designated as affordable. It also requires the property owner to deliver $280 million in community benefits for traffic, school and city uses.
“While the SB 35 project approval is in itself an historic achievement, both Wednesday’s Specific Plan approval and Friday’s SB 35 project approval are critical milestones toward the much-needed revitalization of Vallco and the construction of both affordable and market-rate housing,” said Reed Moulds, Managing Director at Sand Hill Property Company.
“This is also terrific news for Cupertino, who has been striving to do the right thing and be a part of the solution to this regional housing crisis, in spite of a portion of its population that has fought to build a wall around the city. This faction believes that by excluding low income families from Cupertino they can protect their own property values and quality of life, but these Vallco Town Center approvals will ultimately prove that residents of all income levels make for a richer community and a better Cupertino.”
“We would like to ultimately select the plan that has the broadest community support and input, however we have heard that fundraising and preparations for a challenge to the newly approved Specific Plan are already underway by those who seek to block the revitalization of Vallco and the building of much-needed affordable housing. Suffice to say efforts like this to block or delay the Specific Plan will weigh heavily into which project we pursue,” Moulds said.
State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the author of the SB 35 legislation, also weighed in on the approval.
“This type of project is exactly why we passed SB 35: to streamline and expedite housing approvals in cities that fall short of their housing goals,” said Wiener. “Cupertino, like the entire Bay Area, is in desperate need of housing of all kinds. The Vallco project includes historic amounts of market rate and affordable homes. It has stalled for years due to local opposition. If we are serious about digging ourselves out of our huge housing deficit, we need projects like this one. I look forward to the Vallco project, with its thousands of mixed income homes, moving forward. I want to thank the Cupertino City Council for working diligently to guarantee that housing will finally be built at the defunct Vallco Mall.”
Friday’s SB 35 entitlement package included a development permit, architectural and site approvals, a tentative subdivision map for condominium purposes, and a tree removal permit. Regardless of which plan Sand Hill ultimately selects, the SB 35 project approval allows Sand Hill to begin demolition of the 40-year-old shopping mall, which could occur potentially as early as before the end of the year, according to Sand Hill.
The submission of Vallco Town Center under SB 35 was a direct response to California’s acute housing shortage and the State Legislature’s recent declaration that access to housing, and in particular affordable housing, is a matter of statewide concern. Vallco Town Center allocates more than 2/3rds of its development area to housing.
According to SV@Home, Cupertino currently provides only one affordable housing unit for every fourteen of its low-income jobs, one of the most egregious ratios in the Bay Area. It’s only getting worse: two-thirds of Cupertino’s own “below market rate” rental housing stock, currently totaling only 142 units, will convert to market rate within the next 10 years.
For more information about the Vallco Town Center project and SB 35 process, visit www.revitalizevallco.com.