Cupertino gives OK to redevelopment plans for former Vallco Mall

Cupertino gives OK to redevelopment plans for former Vallco Mall

By Devan J. Patel – Reporter, Silicon Valley Business Journal

The mixed-use redevelopment of the former Vallco Mall in Cupertino, known as The Rise, has cleared a key planning milestone, paving the way for the project to receive permits and begin construction in the coming months.

Cupertino has approved modified plans submitted by Sand Hill Property Co. for the 50-acre site that will transform the former retail hub into a city center and the most significant source of housing in the city’s pipeline.

The project, which is nearly 10 years in the making and was originally approved in 2018, scaled back its initial proposal by nearly 1 million square feet but increased the number of housing units by 11% to 2,669.

“The market forces that have continued to impact projects across the Bay Area over the past 18 months have pushed us all to new levels of creativity and adaptability, and surfaced an even deeper commitment to working together to ensure this project is successful,” said Reed Moulds, managing director of Sand Hill Property Companies for The Rise. “We are grateful for the ideas and contributions the city has brought to this process and for the spirit of collaboration that helps to secure our resilience as a community today and, critically, as we guide The Rise through these uncertain times and into the future.”

The backstory on The Rise redevelopment

When the project was initially approved in 2018, it was set to feature 2,402 housing units, approximately 1.97 million square feet of office space and about 425,000 square feet of retail space.

The biggest points of tension within the community were the project’s proposed 240-foot residential towers, which if constructed would have been the largest in the city, and the creation of the world’s largest “green roof.”

But Sand Hill walked back those plans, nixing the idea of a 29-acre green roof and limiting building heights to no more than 85 feet. Moulds told the Business Journal in December that the original proposal would have been difficult to build and finance given the challenges posed by the current economic climate.

“In this situation, the rooftop park had become a luxury,” Moulds told the Business Journal in December. “Given its size and the extent to which it would have affected multiple buildings and phases of the project, it was becoming increasingly difficult to build.”

Sand Hill has not disclosed how much the project will cost to fully build out.

While the latest plans increase the overall housing component, the project will reduce the number of homes set aside for affordable housing from 1,201 to 890. The modified plans will also include 1.95 million square feet of office space and approximately 226,000 square feet of retail space.

The project was submitted under SB 35, the California bill that streamlined development applications in cities that had not met housing production quotas from the state.

Along with creating a more vibrant and dynamic downtown, The Rise is a significant project for Cupertino’s future because it will satisfy a substantial component of the housing the city needs to build by 2031.

The state is requiring Cupertino to add 4,588 residential units by then, including 1,193 units and 687 units for very low- and low-income households, respectively. The housing provided meets more than half of the city’s obligations.

“We have continued to work with the Sand Hill Properties team at The Rise to ensure that Cupertino’s priorities are incorporated through every stage of the project’s evolution,” said Pamela Wu, city manager of Cupertino. “Each update provides new opportunities to advance and address comments and feedback from our community. I am pleased that with this approval, the project will be moving forward. This is an important milestone that reflects the collaboration and shared commitment to addressing the housing needs of our community.”

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